Universal Reconciliation


I have heard that it is unconventional but permissible, from a Catholic standpoint, to believe in universal reconciliation – that God is working toward the ultimate reconciliation of all things to God in Christ. I have heard someone say, “I believe in hell, but I do not believe that there is anyone in it” (or something like that).

I do not want to start a debate with those who think this notion is bogus. What I am interested in is whether it is acceptable for a Catholic to believe this. Please include any relevant Church documents in your reply, if possible.

(I asked about this in the “Ask an Apologist” forum a few weeks ago, but it apparently was not high enough on the priority list to be worth an answer, given how busy the resident volunteers are who graciously offer their time.)


I read a small book by Hans Urs von Balthasar a few years ago called Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved? which seemed to take the position that Christ’s cross would ultimately touch all, leading them to salvation. But I don’t recall enough about it to say much more.


Given the fact Jesus says there is a hellfire prepared for the Devil and his angels for all the wicked men is clear enough evidence that not all will be saved. (see the end of Matthew 25)


it is not clear. it just says that it is prepared for them, it does not say anyone is there.

when the NT says that Christ died for the sins of the world, i take it to mean the entire world. all things have been reconciled to God through Christ. not all men choose to live in the truth of that reconciliation. and, i believe, it is possible for them to choose to live outside of that truth all the way to hell.


There is plenty of scriptural support for the position, in my estimation. Does anyone know, though, whether the Catholic Church would support or permit such a position?


There were early church theologians and bishops who believed in it, such as Origen, St. Basil and many others. However, Origen’s views were condemned by the Church. I don’t have any documents to support this, just my own personal study of hell and UR. As a non-Catholic, I absolutely believe in UR.




I know the Church does teach that salvation at the moment of death is definately possible. My imagination leads me to think that even the worst sinner at the point of departure, sitting on the fence seperating the two worlds, would find it in his heart to seek his maker.

And we do pray that He will “lead all souls to Heaven”.

“-I am dead. I have corrupted myself beyond any human ability to leave it behind. All I have left is comfort in knowing that God exists in infinite goodness, left unstained by my dispicable actions.”


Preparing something for people implies that some will arrive. The Mat 25 scene is where Jesus separates the sheep from the goats, this wouldnt make sense if there was never going to be goats.


Yes, we pray that Christ would “lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy,” just like the scriptures say that Christ is “the savior of all, especially those who believe.”

Here is a brief web site that mentions some things. What do you think of this?


That page is run by schismatics, pure garbage.


This is a really interesting topic. The idea of God reconciling all creation to himself at the end of time (apokatastasis) as separate from just “universal salvation” I do not believe was specifically anathematized (or rather the anathema was never ratified). The difference between them is that those believing in Universalism generally don’t believe in hell, whereas apokatastasis posits that there IS a hell, but it is impermanent. Origen’s condemned ideas about apokatastasis were tied up in his theories about a pre-existant soul, so it’s entirely possible that a Catholic may believe in some form of final reconciliation without directly opposing any sort of anathema.

Personally I’m opposed to the idea since it denudes the Gospel of any power and eliminates the purpose of free will altogether.

Here’s a really good discussion of the subject from an Eastern perspective:



That page is run by schismatics, pure garbage.

Regarding the first, I know. But the second doesn’t follow from the first, and was not obvious from looking over the page. Forgive me if I offended your sensibilities.


but that doesn’t imply that the goats aren’t reconciled, it simply implies that they have not become what they need to be (if that makes sense). they are both under the shepherd. they have both been reconciled as part of the flock. it’s just that one of them (the goats) have not lived in the truth of that reconciliation.

there are 2 aspects to the idea of universal reconciliation:

  1. everyone gets into heaven. because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, sin and death have been conquered for the entire world, thus everyone is reconciled AND spending eternity with God in heaven.

  2. everyone (the entire world) has been made right with God, but not all choose to live in that truth. the outcome of this one is that, although all are reconciled to God (meaning there is not longer a separation between God and man as our sin debt has been paid and the world is made right with God), not all choose to live in this truth. there is the possibility of living outside of this truth all your life and even into death for eternity.

also, the sheep and the goats parable is just that… a parable. it does not necessarily imply that people will be in hell. it implies that hell is a place and a possible destination should we choose not to live our lives in the truth of the reconciliation accomplished on the cross.


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