Question about Mortal Sin


Say John commits a mortal sin. He is remorseful that he committed this sin and decides to go to confession for it. Now, let’s say John dies before he makes it to confession, with the mortal sin on his soul. What happens to him? Does he go to Purgatory or Hell? I have a Protestant friend who claims that since John died with mortal sin on his soul, regardless of his remorse for it, he will go to Hell. I’ve looked up some stuff on Purgatory but the answer wasn’t really clear for me. Can someone tell me what the Catholic teaching is and link me to some sources to show my friend? Thanks.


The simple answer is: Only God knows.

Nobody here on earth has the power to decide whether any individual person will go to heaven, purgatory or hell–only God.


Catechism of the Catholic Church

1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.


How lame would that be, if you commited a sin, and you are running to the nearest confessional because you feel so sorry, and you get hit by a car right before you cross the street to the church, and next thing you know you are in hell!

I am sure God is more merciful than that. But Like TE said, Only God Knows.


One cannot say with certainty on such a situation but we can trust in God’s mercy and they likely would not go to hell. God is not bound by his sacraments. The sinner in such a case is showing obedience to his commands and his Church. Having the intent of going to confession already shows that the grace for repentence is there.


Cute story Christopher :rolleyes:


but I thought Protestants do not believe in confessing to a priest. Does he?


What if a knowledgeable, practicing Catholic announced one day that it was not that he disbelieved Catholicism, but he was determined to go to hell when he died, and proceeded systematically to commit every mortal sin he knew of, starting with those he knew weren’t illegal and proceeding in order into those he would get arrested for, all planned out and with the determination to commit them all? His final sin, I suppose, would be suicide (after that he could not sin).

Would the Catholic Church be willing to say he went to hell?


No-one, and not the Church, can go further than saying it’s highly likely he did go to hell. All depends entirely on the person’s state of mind at the instant of death, which can’t be certainly known to others.

There’s a story of St John Vianney (I think) counselling a woman whose husband had suicided by throwing himself off a bridge. Reportedly the saint had a :newidea: :angel1: from heaven and said to her ‘don’t worry - he repented between the bridge and the water!’

Whilever there’s the opportunity to repent ‘between the bridge and the water’ so to speak, we can’t give up any soul as irrevocably lost.


If I watched this whole thing go down, I’d probably wonder if the man had developed a brain tumor. Of course, that could negate culpability, as you likely know.

To my knowledge, the Church doesn’t make a pronouncement after a man dies, saying he went to hell. If this case were real, I imagine it would not inspire them to suddenly change policy. Of course, you can probably dig up a member of the Church somewhere who is personally willing to pronounce that the man is in hell.


The Catholic Church doesn’t make pronouncements on what you or I “want” them to announce but, only those truths that they are led by the Holy Spirit to announce. So far they haven’t been led by the Spirit to announce anyone, even Hitler or Stalin, are in hell. They can’t force God to give them this knowledge. You want to believe Hitler is in hell? Go ahead, but the Church won’t announce it until it is revealed.

[] John 14:26 But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.


No, the Church wouldn’t but I as a Catholic would! If you were knowledgeable and you totally and willfully reject God, He will not force you into submission. Hard to believe a knowledgeable person would willfully decide this.


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