The Reality of Hell

Hi everyone, just curious for some thoughts. I was surfing posts about Hell on the forum and thinking about the topic. Does anybody else think that the Magisterium has a little more guidance to provide as to the reality and possible destination of souls in Hell? It seems that Catholics can’t really give an agreeing answer when people come asking about Hell.

I mean… what do we know? Christ spoke of its existence. He said some people will go there. Wide is the road that leads to it. “Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Sallus” becomes a dogma in the Church. The Church uses this dogma as a guide to point the way to Heaven. The Church mostly interprets it literally for a few thousand years, then reanalyzes the dogma when the Americas are discovered (someone can fact check me on that). In Vatican II salvation to God and from Hell is fleshed out. God will not condemn someone to Hell who genuinely does not know that God desires them to physically be in His Holy Catholic Church. Catechism reiterates. That’s really it.

Catholics then disagree on minor points when it comes to this. Some say:

“It doesn’t matter if you are Catholic or not, just be a good person.”

“Nobody can go to Hell because who would deny what they don’t know?”

“What loving God would send someone to Hell and deny His presence with them for eternity?”

and then there is the Feenyite Catholic (who I happen to know some) who say:

“Only a valid Catholic in good standing with the Holy See can enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (which correct me if I am wrong, but the feenyite position has not been condemned as an outright heresy).

So… does the Catholic Church need to understand the parameters a little more on this issue for the sake of clarity (and maybe for the sake of the salvation of souls)?

Great question…awaiting answers as well.

  1. Good people can worship false gods or no gods at all. This is also contingent upon #2.

  2. Willful ignorance, not to mention many people raised in the Church who abandon belief because it isn’t convenient, because they want to fit in, because they’ve accepted false teachings, etc. It is rare to find someone who is not aware of Jesus, and if there were ever a curiosity that the person refused to follow, even from an academic perspective, I would say they have made a knowledgeable and definitive choice.

  3. The loving God who does not want us to be His slaves. If we truly do not want to be with Him, expressed in words or actions (both direct and indirect), He will not force us - He created a place that is absent of Himself specifically for those people. What’s the saying “If you love something, set it free, and if it returns, it loves you back” or something - similar concept, just for eternity.

  4. I am unfamiliar with that specific position, but I’ve heard similar, and from my understanding of the Church’s teaching, yes, it appears that is false. Does the lack of something being declared ‘an outright heresy’ prevent it from being wrong, or at the very least, misguided?

God is pure love. He loved us so much that he gave us the gift of free will or free choice.
We can believe whatever we choose but we will be answerable for what we choose to believe. If that choice is to ignore what God wants us to do as per His commandments that is a conscious choice. At any time during the course of a life time that choice can change to one of obedience to God’s commandments. If, however, one chooses to persist in error and die in that error one has decided to live Eternity outside of God…that is hell , an eternity with no Divine Love!,!..the very thought of that is terrifying! It really doesn’t matter if hell is a place or a state…God did not send you there…you chose to go there!
Jesus,I trust in You!

  1. It could be right or wrong, the question remains open because the Church has not weighed on it one way or another. The Feenyite position may seem archaic, but its assertions do not contradict what has been stated by the Church up to now. So if the Church does not condemn it as error, then Catholics can rightfully hold it as truth.

Here’s the thing. Hell exists, it is forever, and is a possibility for anyone. In fact, according to justice, we all deserve Hell. It is only through the mercy of God, shown through the Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of God the Son in the person of Jesus Christ that Heaven is open to us. However, the Church does not (and cannot) claim to profess that any given person is in Hell. It is something that is hidden from us. As such, and because only God knows the truth in one’s heart, we really don’t even know the percentage of people who have fully and completely rejected God’s love (which is how someone ends up in Hell). The Church always assumes that a person who seemed to be in mortal sin when dying was repentant, and either was able to do a final confession or would have if the opportunity had availed itself. This is why we pray for all who have died.

Regardless, God condemns no one to Hell. A person condemns himself or herself. How? By making one’s primary love something other than God. My Catholic devotional, as part of the reflection on the visitation, states: “In this life, there can be only one of two supreme loves: love of self or love of God.” Love of self = Hell. Love of God (which is demonstrated through acts of true love toward neighbor, as well) = Heaven. Period.

I think that this is a very wise post. God bless you :thumbsup:

Outside of the Catholic Church there is absolutely NO salvation. The only exception is the person who genuinely and through no fault of his or her own does not know about God or His Catholic Church (invincible ignorance). Otherwise, those people who separate themselves from God’s Catholic Church through heresy, schism, hardness of heart, and unwillingness to accept the Truth, will unfortunately perish in the eternal fire of hell. This is the reality.

May God bless you and yours forever! :slight_smile:

This has to be one of the most intolerant, cruel and bigoted things I’ve ever read! This sort of attitude is what turns so many against the Church. What do you imagine Pope Francis would think about it?

I’m not necessarily supporting the statement you replied to (nor am I necessarily disputing it) but as to what Pope Francis would think about it? Well, I’m sure what he’d think about this issue would be the same as previous popes. His thoughts would no doubt reflect the teachings of the Church as outlined in the Catechism, as would the thoughts of the popes before him.

“Then many of his disciples who were listening said, ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it?’ Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, He said to them, ‘Does this shock you?..The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’”

“As a result of this, many of His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him” (John 6:60-61, 63-64, 66).

Shame on you if you cannot accept the Truth that dutiful following of the Catholic faith (receiving the Sacraments, good prayer life, avoiding sin, serving others, especially the poor, and having a good and strong, loving relationship with God), then I don’t know what to tell you. But don’t call me bigoted, intolerant, and cruel because I speak the Truth. If you can’t accept it, then maybe you should re-evaluate your personal relationship with God and how important you think His Church is to you.

As to Pope Francis, he would just reiterate the teachings of the Church throughout the ages and say that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. He has already made a very good statement recently that one cannot love God properly without being within His Catholic Church.

May God bless you, keep you safe, and lead you to realize that it is not bigoted to say that those that purposely stay away from His Catholic Church will not be able to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven! :slight_smile:

So how would you define “In good standing with the Holy See?” Would this include people attending at SSPX parishes, the SSPX clergy, etc? What about the sedevacantists? If any of these people were martyrs of the faith, would they be withheld from the Kingdom because they weren’t “in good standing”? The inflexibility of this position is what troubles me.

Personally, though, while I hope that every soul willingly works towards Heaven, I feel that no one really ‘strolls through the Gates’. Honestly, I worry that many people (Catholics and non-Catholics alike) presume salvation while still alive, and that is something that must never be taken for granted, for we can sever our relationship with God much more quickly than we can repair it.

I am sorry that you felt this way after reading it, but I think this ties into the Feenyite position - how should we come to understand and interpret “outside of the Catholic Church”? The Catholic Church contains the Truth of Christ that shines throughout the world, and from our one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church, there have been fractures and schisms, and perhaps those churches do not carry the fullness of the Truth, but they carry parts of it - some more than others. It is easy to dismiss non-denom mega-churches that constantly contradict one another, but let’s go the opposite route - do we as Catholics believe that the Orthodox churches are withheld from God’s salvation because they do not submit to the Holy See?

I am no theologian nor priest, and I am willing to forego any of my beliefs if instructed to do so by the Church, as I put my full faith in her as I do in Christ, for she is His Body remaining on Earth and is guided by the Holy Spirit. However, as the Church has not declared what “outside of the Church” means, I find the Feenyite position too strict, particularly as it seems to exclude the idea of invincible ignorance (although again, I do not know it outside of this conversation, so perhaps it does allow for it).

You are so convinced of your own opinion that nothing will allow you to open your mind to others. You speak as if YOU were the Pope, so please at least try to show a little of his humility, gentleness and compassion in your posts. Can you honestly believe that all those good people who do not happen to be Catholics will be banished to hell, whilst you join Our Blessed Lord in heaven. Does it ever occur to you that you might just sometimes be wrong?

It seems to me that you outlining the false misconception that many people have about what I am trying to say about how being Catholic is necessary for salvation. I do NOT mean it in regards to name alone, absolutely NOT. The reason why you must be Catholic to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven is because only us Catholics have preserved the fullness of the Truth given to us by Jesus Himself. Therefore, we alone are doing what Jesus has commanded us and has outlined for us to do in order to receive salvation.

Jesus did not come and die for us just so that we could do whatever we want, live whichever way we want, and follow whatever “religion” we want. He came, gave us the fullness of the Truth, saved us from our sins by His Paschal Mystery, and gave us the Catholic Church to preserve His Truth and to pass it down to all of mankind throughout all of the ages until the end of time. If someone (like a Protestant or Orthodox or anything else outside of the Church) denies this and separate himself/herself from God’s Catholic Church through heresy, schism, hardness of heart, and unwillingness to accept the Church that He Himself founded, then how can they hope to be saved? They can’t.

Now, invincible ignorance, if that person does his or her best to live according to the natural law and with goodness and kindness, most definitely has the possibility of salvation, because it was not their fault. That’s it.

May God bless you and keep you in Truth! :slight_smile:

I guess my question is whether the beliefs and practices of groups like the Orthodox and certain Protestant groups that remain close to those held by the Catholic Church (and originated from the Church founded by Christ) are sufficient. For example, if we recognize the validity of the Real Presence in the Eucharist of the Greek Orthodox, and none of their teachings are contrary enough to bar them from Heaven as if they were Catholic, would the sole nature of their faith not being expressly Roman Catholic hinder their gaining entry if they lived in such a way as to be able to receive God’s mercy by joining Him in Heaven? They have the sacraments, they have the faith, they have (seemingly) everything accept recognition of the authority of the Pope over their church. Do you believe they will not be given entrance to Heaven? And does the Church teach that they will not be given entrance to Heaven?

I think that the Orthodox believe some different things than we do, even besides recognition of the Pope. I don’t know what they are exactly, but I do believe that they are there. However, why would one reject the Pope, who Jesus Himself gave us as His Vicar on earth? How do you think Jesus feels about that?

Just thoughts to ponder. Emily2014 seems to have left for now, so we’ll pick up on this conversation when she comes back online.

No Richard, I’m still following the thread, but can see no point in arguing. We must just agree to differ.
Nothing will ever make me believe that only Catholics go to heaven!!!
I believe that there are many mansions in heaven and many paths to Our Blessed Lord, whether or not we call Him by a different name, worship in a different way or have beliefs which differ from those of Catholics. If people lead good lives, love their God and follow the essence of his commandments, they will be with him forever in Heaven. Why else would God have made us (NOT just Catholics). I respect those of other Faiths and wish I could be as good a person as so many of them are.
Just out of interest, where does it say in the Bible that “Only Catholics will go to Heaven”

I think Christ feels sorrowful about the Great Schism, but I don’t know if He has therefore rejected the Orthodox Church. I am unable to know the infinite mercy of God’s love, so until the Church declares one way or the other, I like to think of my position as more ‘open’ than the Feenyite position, though still much more restrictive than the general populace likes to believe.

I once had coworkers telling me their issues with religion - one was an apostate Catholic, the other considers himself a ‘social, humanist Jew’. The main point of their argument was why they needed to attend religious services, and wouldn’t God be happier if they went out and worked at a homeless shelter instead? I asked them how they would know that is what God wants us to do without instruction from religious leaders, and also told them that most people (gasp!) do both. But I think it is a growing trend (even among Catholics) that as long as we ‘live a good life’ (which is always determined by what the individual considers to be good, not what God asks us to do), we’ll get the white carpet rolled out for us (don’t want to clash with the gates and clouds!)

While I agree with you that there are likely non-Catholics in Heaven, I think this line of reasoning can be dangerous. For example, groups that deny the basic truths revealed to us by Christ (but are fully aware of those teachings from the Church) while still claiming to be Christian are not likely to have a high population in Heaven. If we truly believe what God has taught us about the complementary sexual natures of men and women and how the marital act is preserved solely for husband and wife, what about ‘faithful believers’ under religions that allow for same-sex ‘marriage’, sex outside of marriage, divorce, and other sexual sins (birth control, abortion, etc also being the fruits of those sins). Could we say they are truly loving God because they have determined what God’s teaching to be on their own accord? Even if they faithfully and wholeheartedly believe it, if the teachings are wrong, then I struggle to accept that someone who willfully follows them (while being made aware of the Catholic Church’s teaching) is truly ‘loving God’, thereby making entrance into Heaven quite difficult.

Again, I am hopeful that everyone makes it into Heaven - CS Lewis describes working towards the salvation of all souls as the most important job of all humans. We must do all we can to spread Christ’s message, and to do so lovingly, but weakening the message to make others more ‘comfortable’ is harmful to both Christ and those who need to hear His Truth.

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