Need Magisterial texts on the last judgment

I’m in a discussion with a faithful Catholic about the last judgment. This person rejects the claim that the Church teaches that at the final judgment, the sins and good done by each person will be known by all. I believe that the person is even very skeptical that the final judgment consists of a gathering of all humanity to be judged in one another’s presence.

Now these are very, very commonly understood Church teachings. They’re simply taken for granted by virtually every reliable Catholic source I’ve ever encountered. However, I am having difficulty finding magisterial sources to back them up.

We’ve already turned to CCC#1039, but this passage is sufficiently non-specific as to hold no weight for my friend, who believes that the our will be “laid bare” before Christ, but not anyone else. Right or wrong, we aren’t going to get anywhere using this as a source. I need something more explicit.

I’ve got the Baltimore Catechism, the Roman Catechism, and the Pius X catechism to back things up. The USCCB catechism is not totally explicit, but is a bit more so than the CCC. This is all great, but this person really wants something explicitly magisterial. Again, I’d argue that you can’t simply reject five or six catechisms, spanning 400 years - even without being magisterial texts the ubiquity of this teaching here certainly has to get into the territory of the sensum fidei.

Nevertheless, anything else and more explicitly Magisterial would be very helpful.

Does your friend accept Matthew 25? It’s fairly explicit.

Matthew 25, like other Scripture, is open to different interpretations and misinterpretations. I agree that it’s a good thing to cite, but this person wants something from a Church document.

Just ask them what it is they are afraid of having exposed / known by all…seriously.

There may be a truth here - I don’t know. If so, it would not make this person any different from anyone else. Who wants to see his sins revealed?

At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t really matter. The person wants to see official Church teaching on the matter from an authoritative source. That’s not unreasonable, and the fact is that trying to dig into one’s personal sensitivities is not an approach that would be really helpful here.

Also, remember your own signature: “Be nice. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” I have no idea what any individual may be thinking or what may be motivating them. I’m just trying to provide authoritative Church teaching on the question.

Actually, it’s very important to divine justice that everybody hear what everybody has done, good and bad, and that everybody witness the justice and mercy of God, in the light of knowing the truth about everybody’s deeds. Doing things openly and publicly has been part of jurisprudence since the earliest times, and it is enshrined in common law. It’s why the elders of Jewish cities sat in the city gates to give judgment, and why the king gave judgment in his public throne room, in front of all onlookers. The ancients would have known what to think about judicial abuses and strange decisions, like sealing records away from the people or holding secret trials.

In any case, everyone in Heaven does know, and every saved person will “know fully, even as I am known” by God. (1 Cor. 13:12) That’s the beatific knowledge, which includes all sorts of things, from explanations of the full workings of Creation and Nature to the lives of your fellow members of the Body of Christ.

So really, when you think about it, the general judgment is for the benefit of those people who are damned, so that they will know that they had as fair a chance as anybody.

By knowing the full facts about everything that has ever happened, we will also know why God has allowed certain overwhelmingly bad or good things to happen to people, especially when they do not know why they happened and do not seem to deserve them. The general judgment will allow both good and bad people, and good and bad angels, to judge God’s actions according to His own account, so that we will know for certain that He is good and worthy of praise, and we will give Him glory.

St. Augustine talks about this at length in Book 20 of The City of God. Here’s a comment from the end of Book 20, Chapter 1:

“… the last judgment, when Christ is to come from heaven to judge the living and the dead. For that day is properly called the day of judgment, because in it there shall be no room left for the ignorant questioning why this wicked person is happy and that righteous man unhappy. In that day true and full happiness shall be the lot of none but the good, while deserved and supreme misery shall be the portion of the wicked, and of them only.”

He adds in Chapter 2:

“… when we shall have come to that judgment… we shall then recognize the justice of all God’s judgments: not only of such as shall then be pronounced, but of all which have taken effect from the beginning, or may take effect before that time.”

The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent (the old old catechism that was replaced by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and which was for the use of priests as a guide for teaching their congregations) backs this up in Article VII: “He Shall Come to Judge the Living and the Dead.”

“… when on the same day and in the same place, all men shall stand together before the tribunal of their Judge, that in the presence and hearing of all human beings of all times each may know his final doom and sentence. The announcement of this judgment will constitute no small part of the pain and punishment of the wicked; whereas the good and just will derive great reward and consolation from the fact that it will then appear what each one was in life. This is called the general judgment.”

[Several arguments follow for why God would hold a general judgment. You’ll have to see if these arguments would help your friend; they are provided for pastoral purposes.]

"Finally, it was important to prove, that in prosperity and adversity, which are sometimes the promiscuous lot of the good and of the bad, everything is ordered by an all-wise, all-just, and all-ruling Providence: it was, therefore, necessary not only that rewards and punishments should await us in the next life, but that they should be awarded by a public and general judgment.

“Thus they will become better known and will be rendered more conspicuous to all; and in atonement for the unwarranted murmurings, to which on seeing the wicked abound in wealth and flourish in honours, even the Saints themselves, as men, have sometimes given expression, a tribute of praise will be offered by all to the justice and Providence of God. ‘My feet,’ says the Prophet [David], 'were almost moved, my steps had well nigh slipped, because I had a zeal on occasion of the wicked, seeing the prosperity of sinners;” (Ps. 73:2) and a little after: ‘Behold! these are sinners and yet abounding in the world, they have obtained riches; and I said, Then have I in vain justified my heart, and washed my hands among the innocent; and I have been scourged all the day, and my chastisement hath been in the morning.’ (Ps. 73:12-14) This has been the frequent complaint of many, and a general judgment is therefore necessary, lest perhaps men may be tempted to say that ‘God walketh about the poles of heaven, and regards not the earth.’ (cf. Job. 22:14)

“Wisely, therefore, has this truth been made one of the twelve Articles of the Christian Creed, so that should any begin to waver in mind concerning the Providence and justice of God they might be reassured by this doctrine.”

I’ll look and see what else I can find for you.

Actually, Isaiah talks about the public nature of God’s judgment, in Isaiah 66:22-24:

“‘For as the new heavens and the new earth shall remain before me,’ said the Lord, ‘so shall your seed and your name remain; and there shall be to them month after month, and Sabbath after Sabbath. All flesh shall come to worship before me in Jerusalem,’ said the Lord. ‘And they** shall go out, and shall see the members of the men who have sinned against me; their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be for a spectacle to all flesh**.’”

Obviously this is something that Jesus quoted too, in Mark 9:42-47:

"And if your hand make you stumble [ie, sin], cut it off: it is better for you to enter into life maimed, than have two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not extinguished.

"And if your foot make you stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter lame into life everlasting, than have two feet, to be cast into the hell of unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not extinguished.

“And if your eye make you stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you with one eye to enter into the kingdom of God, than have two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not extinguished.”

So given the rabbinical idea that quoting one passage should bring the whole area you’re quoting into your listeners’ mind, Jesus is explicitly warning us against not only being damned, but becoming “a spectacle to all flesh,” with our wickedness known to everyone who lives in bliss in the new heavens and the new earth.

There’s also the so-called “Athanasian Creed,” aka the “Quicunque vult.” It dates back to the 5th or 6th century and was quoted by St. Caesarius of Arles, among others. It’s pretty official. And it says:

"… God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead.

"He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the God the Father Almighty, from whence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

"At His coming all men will rise again with their bodies, and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.

“This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.”

Here are some more texts:

Romans 2:12-16:

"For whoever have sinned outside the Law, shall perish outside the Law; and whoever have sinned in the Law, shall be judged by the Law. For the hearers of the Law are not just before God, but the doers of the Law shall be justified.

“For when the Gentiles, who do not have the Law, do by nature those things that are of the Law, these (having not the Law) are a Law to themselves, who show the work of the Law written in their hearts: their conscience bearing witness to them, and their thoughts between themselves accusing, or also defending one another on the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”

Mark 4:22-23:

"For there is nothing hidden which shall not be made manifest. Neither was it made secret, but so that it may come abroad.

“If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.”

Luke 8:17:

“For there is not anything secret that shall not be made manifest; nor hidden, that shall not be known and come abroad.”

Revelation 20:11-15:

"And I saw a great white Throne, and One sitting upon it from Whose face the earth and heaven fled away; and there was no place found for them.

"And I saw the dead, great and small, standing in the presence of the Throne; and the books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged by those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

"And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and hell gave up their dead that were in them; and they were judged, every one, according to their works.

“And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire. This is the second death. And whoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the pool of fire.”

Matthew 16:27 (quoting Ps. 27, Ps. 61, and many other passages about God rewarding, punishing, or judging according to one’s works):

“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then will He render to every man according to his works.”

Thanks. I agree with everything you’ve written, and have tried explaining things in this way to the person. Unfortunately, this person really wants hardcore Maisterial texts. The Augustine quotes have already been rejected as being “weighty” enough because, not unreasonably, the person has pointed out that fathers of the Church, theologians, and even doctors of the Church have said many things which are their own opinions or are later contradicted by magisterial teaching. In other words, they’re not always right.

I’ve got the Catechism of Trent, the Pius X Catechism, the Baltimore Catechism, and even the USCCB Catechism. These are great and I would argue that together, they do hold a certain weight that strongly suggests that it is teaching according to the Sensum Fidei. Nevertheless, I want as much as possible to bring to the table.

I’ve already exhausted my pretty extensive resources looking into Magisterial sources and have not had much success. It very much seems to be a teaching which comes out of the ordinary Magisterium as opposed to the extraordinary.

Those are good quotes, Mintaka. The problem with trying to prove this is that this person accepts that all of our works, good and evil, will be made manifest to Christ, but they are having a hard time accepting that it will also be manifest to men. I think that that interpretation is a stretch, but this is not about me. It’s about trying to reach this person who will accept it if I can give something authoritative and explicit, but not if it’s open to interpretation or is only implicit.

Well, it just seems to be so obvious, I guess. Judgment is not a private thing in the ancient world, just like kingship and armies are not a private thing. Arbitration, that’s private.

This text seems a lot more obvious –

1 Corinthians 4:5 -

“Therefore do not judge before the time: until the Lord comes, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of hearts. And then shall every man have praise from God.”

Zephaniah 3:5, 3:8

"The just Lord is in the midst of [Jerusalem]. He will not do iniquity.** In the morning, in the morning He will bring his judgment to light, and it shall not be hidden.** But the wicked man has not known shame…

“‘So expect Me,’ says the Lord, ‘on the day of My resurrection that is to come, for my judgment is to assemble the Gentiles, and to gather the kingdoms; and to pour upon them my indignation, all my fierce anger…’”

Micah 7:9-10:

"I will bear the wrath of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until He judge my cause and execute judgment for me. He will bring me forth into the light, **I shall behold His justice. **

And my enemy shall behold, and she shall be covered with shame, who says to me, ‘Where is the Lord thy God?’”

I don’t know if this will help, but there is a long explanation on judgement in “The Hope of Eternal Life”, which is a Catholic / Lutheran dialogue document. It says, in part:

Common Affirmations

  1. Catholics and Lutherans affirm together that God, who calls us into a life of communion with him, holds us accountable for our whole lives. The grace we have been given in Christ and the Spirit is not a “talent” to bury, but should become our empowerment for praising God in freedom and contributing to the good of our fellow creatures (cf. Mt. 25:1-14). We also cannot forget that God’s gifts to us can be squandered. Each Christian must take seriously Paul’s admonition, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12, RSV).

110.** The truths that God will judge our lives, that what we have done in the dark will be brought to light, and that we will know as we are known, all affirm both the seriousness of how each of us lives and God’s faithfulness to his human creatures.** Both our traditions reject “security” in the face of divine judgment, while recalling that from those to whom much has been given, much will be required (cf. Lk. 12:48).

  1. Both of our traditions, however, form us to live in joyful confidence and certainty of hope. We know that God’s grace is sufficient. God’s judgment is one aspect of the comprehensive establishment of God’s justice, that is, the very justice that is an essential aspect of our hope. Judgment, as our encounter with God revealing the truth about the lives we have lived, is an important and necessary moment of our entrance into the joy of eternal life and thus should be an object of our hope as well.


EWTN has an interview about this one. You might want to check out revelations stuff on EWTN

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