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Even more on Hell: Population Zero November 6, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Basics, catachesis, error, foolishness, Four Last Things, General Catholic, priests, sadness, scandals, secularism, self-serving, Tradition, Virtue.

I received a fairly hostile comment on my most recent post regarding the Barron/von Baltasar “hope” that no human souls have ever been, or will ever be, condemned to hell.  The comment was typical of some I’ve received before, and even more I’ve seen elsewhere, in response to arguments that his pious hope of an empty hell is problematic in many respects. This comment brought up some points I thought about including in the original post, but for various reasons didn’t. But practically speaking, this hope has wound up being very problematic, as we see the vast majority of Catholic funerals today turn into informal canonization ceremonies, with no counsel that the poor souls in question receive any prayers.

First, the comment:

So, you have placed a limit on God’s mercy.  That’s obviously not heretical or anything.  After all, we all learned at an early age that God is All-Powerful, All-Knowing and Somewhat-Merciful.

The point is we don’t know if anyone is in hell.  We know hell exists, we just don’t know if anyone is actually there.  Holy Mother Church has never taught definitively that souls are in hell.  But it’s nice of you to enhance her teaching.  I’m sure she and her Bridegroom greatly appreciate that clarification to her teaching, along with your limitation of God the Father’s mercy. 

Awesome work.

My response:

This is a strange comment. God’ Mercy may be infinite, but so is His Justice. I haven’t limited anything, as if I have the power. All I have done is repeat what the vast preponderance of the Magisterium of the Church claims with regard to hell, including Sacred Scripture and Tradition.  Hundreds of Saints have testified that hell is populated, possibly even quite crowded. Were they impugning on God’s Mercy, too?  Please.

What I am about to say is something I almost put in the post. People who cling to this hope tend to be extremely touchy about it. They don’t like to hear any contrary opinions. They tend to get very annoyed and upset when they are presented with Scripture, evidence from Saints, etc., that weighs against this “hope.” I can only guess why that might be, from my own perspective, it would be really nice to believe all souls go to Heaven, because then I could stop worrying about (and evangelizing) my family, but that evidence from the Magisterium remains.

I think this is significant. Most every Catholic today has loved ones that have either fallen away, or were never Catholic in the first place. Many of those loved ones may have died. Does clinging to this hope prevent those Catholics from praying for the deceased? How often are we even counseled to pray for deceased souls at funereal/Requiem Masses?  Outside traditional Masses, essentially never – quite the contrary, we are told the souls are already in Heaven most of the time. An instant canonization.  The net effect is that souls, quite possibly in dire need of prayer, are not benefiting from the prayers they need and deserve. I know the souls of the damned cannot be prayed for to any effect, but how many souls are languishing in Purgatory while their hopeful loved ones ignore their duty to pray for the repose of their souls because of this assumption of instant salvation?

I think this hope has a tendency to cause people to fail in their duty in one of the prime spiritual works of mercy. Not necessarily, the commenter, but generally. The entire argument above is based on emotion, devoid of any supporting argument.  It is 100% true that this belief in universal salvation was utterly unheard of in the entire Magisterium, save one discredited heretic, from Apostolic times until the 20th century.  That alone should give us great pause.  I should also note that von Baltasar, de Lubac, and other purveyors of this theory, frequently radically misquoted Fathers of the Church in support of this theory. de Lubac was notorious about that.  Fr. Dominc Bourmaud in his book 100 Years of Modernism shows how de Lubac essentially made up quotes from St. Justin Martyr and other Fathers in order to try to advance some of his theological novelties.  Fr. Yves Congar did the same.

They either made these Saints say things they never said, or they took statements utterly out of context in order to advance their proposition. That right there should be enough to give anyone pause.  It fundamentally undermines all their work.  These men made the Angelic Doctor, Aquinas, do somersaults by radically misrepresenting his words.

I do not want to be misunderstood. I hope and pray everyone goes to Heaven. My entire family is outside the Church, and always has been. But I, like all Catholics, must use my reason and sensus fidei to advise what the Church has always believed, and that is that while we may not know the destination of any uncanonized soul, we do have great evidence that many souls fall into hell. In fact, my advice is simply conservative: if it is possible that many or even a few souls go to hell, reason and charity dictate that I counsel people to be extremely aware of that fact, the better to prepare themselves to avoid that grim fate.  I would in fact be committing a sin against charity if I failed to do so, and I think the von Baltasarian “hope” has grave potential of being just such a sin against charity, given that it is nothing more than a totally unsustantiated theological proposition.  Sorry if that disturbs you, but read some books from before 1950 and you’ll quickly find the same.

One final argument, this time from Scripture.  Much of the Old Testament is a type for the New Testament. That means it is a representation of what was to come in the New Covenant.  The flight from Egypt to the Promised Land is a type for our earthly sojourn and our flight to our eternal destination.  As such, the experience of the Jews in the Old Testament has direct bearing on we who live under the New Covenant, thanks be to God.

How many souls that fled Egypt made it to the Promised Land, the OT type for Heaven?  The answer is two.  How many fled Egypt – Scripture says 600,000 adult men, plus all the women and children.  This is a type for the number of the elect.  You can say that’s wicked, evil, it inveighs against God’s Mercy all you want, but the fact remains, this is a Biblical type accepted by Saints and theologians ranging from Bellarmine and Augustine to Bossuet and Teresa of Jesus.

Charity and logic dictate that if there is even a fair possibility that hell is filled with souls of the damned, we owe it to ourselves and as many souls as we can reach knowledge of that potentiality. I will not apologize for acting out of concern for souls.


1. Jason Winchester - November 6, 2013

Don’t feel bad. That is the classic response you get from the liberal wing of the Church when you attempt to properly articulate the teachings of the Magisterium on this issue. In fact, I have had the exact same thing said to me more than once.

2. MMC - November 6, 2013

Rock on Tantamergo! Those who cry “mercy” forget it’s counterpart, justice. And the Divine Mercy Chaplet was the result of St. Faustina’s journey into hell itself: http://www.divinemercysunday.com/vision.htm Thank you for speaking truth! God bless~

Baseballmom - November 6, 2013

Yes, I recently read St. Faustina’s vision of Hell…. Anyone who thinks that Mercy means no Hell is gravely mistaken.

3. Catholic4Life - November 6, 2013

Reblogged this on Catholic4Life and commented:
God bless you for proclaiming the truth!! The heretical voices like Fr. Barron must be silenced for the true voices to be heard i.e., ‘In the Great Deluge in the days of Noah, nearly all mankind perished, eight persons alone being saved in the Ark. In our days a deluge, not of water but of sins, continually inundates the earth, and out of this deluge very few escape. Scarcely anyone is saved. – – St. Alphonsus Liguori
So many people are going to die, and almost all of them are going to Hell! So many people falling into hell! Bl. Jacinta of Fatima

4. TG - November 6, 2013

Good post. I read a comment in another blog that only 2 people make it to the Promised Land and Moses was not one of them. This person said basically what you said. Was that you? I read so many blogs, I can’t remember where.

tantamergo - November 6, 2013

It might have been, I think I’ve posted that info once before.

5. Hannah - November 7, 2013

Why on earth are we doing the Catholic religion if we’re not avoiding hell and aiming for Heaven?

Makes sense, right? Right?

6. Molly Bergman - November 7, 2013

Tanto, I have a question. You write:

“I know the souls of the damned cannot be prayed for to any effect…”

Given that we cannot be sure of the location of a soul….should we pray for all souls regardless of their location?

Please forgive my ignorance. I am still learning all there is in the Magesterium.


rosa - November 7, 2013

Pray for the holy souls in Purgatory, that will cover anyone for whom your prayers will be efficacious.

tantamergo - November 7, 2013

ABSOLUTELY YES! Pray for all souls, because we don’t know where any souls are at! Save for canonized Saints. We don’t have to pray for them, we should pray for their intercession.

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