Friday, November 01, 2013

Fr. Barron and Mark Shea and Balthasar are Wrong

Michael Voris recently came out with a video entitled simply "Fr. Barron is Wrong", challenging the popular priest-evangelist on his repeated statements in favor of the theory proposed by the late Hans Urs von Balthasar in Dare We Hope? that it is acceptable for Christian to have good hope that Hell may be empty. Voris rightly notes that Christ Himself says some souls will definitely go to Hell on numerous occasions, and that the Church's alleged "silence" on the definitive presence of anyone in Hell is not due to any support for the empty-hell theory, but due to the fact that the definitive presence of any one soul in Hell is not part of Divine Revelation and therefore outside the pale of the Church's competence to define. Therefore, the fact that the Church has never "proclaimed" anyone in Hell provides no rationale whatsoever for asserting that Hell is empty.

At this point Mark Shea jumped in and accused Voris of smearing Fr. Barron wrongly with his "poison." It is not my intention here to comment on the antagonism between Voris and Shea; I am more interested in Shea's comments that the Fr. Barron-Balthasar "Empty Hell" theory is "perfectly within the pale of orthodox speculation" and that "at the end of the day, that’s all you have: two schools of opinion–both of which are allowed by the Church." Thus, the Balthasarian "Empty Hell" theory is granted a legitimate place on the spectrum of legitimate opinions upon which Catholics can disagree in good conscience, and the traditional opinion that people do in fact go to Hell is also placed on the spectrum as another legitimate "option."

This defense of Fr. Barron and Balthasar apparently goes back to Shea's position that Tradition itself has two "irreconcilable" aspects of the question of Hell that leave the issue fraught with a certain "tension", which I contest but will leave off for the time being. 

I am more interested in Shea's comments about "two schools of opinion-both of which are allowed by the Church." This is what I object to. Balthasar's "Empty Hell" theory is absolutely not a legitimate position on the Catholic spectrum, nor is the belief that some people actually go to Hell just one of various "schools of opinion." According to Fr. Barron, Shea, and Balthasar, even though it is heresy to say that we know that Hell is empty, it is not heresy to suggest that we can have a good hope that Hell is empty. How Fr. Barron and others can assert this is beyond me, since even this proposition is condemned as a heresy by Bl. Pius IX. Let us recall the Syllabus of Errors, number 17, in which the following proposition is condemned:

"Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ." -- Encyclical "Quanto conficiamur," Aug. 10, 1863, etc.

This is precisely what Fr. Barron and Balthasar assert, and what Mark Shea says is "perfectly within the pale of orthodox speculation." Fr. Barron says we can at least have a good hope that everyone makes it to heaven, and yet Pius IX specifically condemns this opinion. Not only proclaiming knowledge of universal salvation, but even allowing "good hope" to so much as be "entertained" is condemned. Period.

Our Lord teaches as much when He says, "Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in through it." (Matt. 7:13). He does not suggest that there are many for whom it is possible that they go to destruction but do not actually go; He says "many there are who go through it." Many means many. Many does not mean "nobody."

In discussions about this topic by apologists pushing the Balthasarian opinion, I seldom see any reference to Luke 13, when Jesus is asked the question point blank, "Lord, are only few people going to be saved?" to which Christ responds, "Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able." (v.23-24). You see that? Many shall seek to enter, and shall not be able. This is not the realm of the hypothetical.

Revelation 20:15 is cited by Voris in his video, which says, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life, was cast into the pool of fire." Again, this is not presented as a hypothetical, but as a real vision of the situation at the Last Judgment. It could be countered that it only says that people not in the book of life get cast into the pool of fire, but does not imply that anyone was actually in this unfortunate position. We do know at least, however, that two individuals will be damned: the Beast and the False Prophet: "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." (Rev. 20:10).

Furthermore, if nobody was actually thrown into the pool of fire, how would John have this knowledge that anyone whose name was not in the book would be thrown in the pool of fire? To put it another way: Suppose I say, "I was uptown yesterday, and I saw the police were ticketing everybody who weren't wearing seat belts." Then suppose you ask, "So how many people got ticketed?" and I say, "Oh, nobody" wouldn't you be utterly confused? The basic grammar of the statement "I saw the police were ticketing everybody who weren't wearing seat belts" implies an action completed in the past, not some hypothetical. This demonstrates the kind of contortions one has to put the Scriptures through to deny the obvious fact that some people will wind up eternally damned.

We could also cite Lumen Gentium 16, which says, "Some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, "Preach the Gospel to every creature", the Church fosters the missions with care and attention."

Note that LG 16 says that "there are" some who wind up dying in final despair without God, and then goes on to cite this as one of the reasons for the urgency of the Great Commission, which is in accord with Tradition: the Gospel must be preached in order to save souls from Hell.

Fr. Barron and Shea both assert that the Empty Hell theory of Balthasar seems to be taught by Pope Benedict XVI in Spe Salvi. Having just completed a very thorough study of the late pontiff's encyclical, I dispute this fact, but that is for another post. But it is sufficient to say that, if we are reading the Magisterium in continuity with itself, Spe Salvi can simply not mean what Fr. Barron and Shea suggest, otherwise Benedict XVI contradicts Pius IX.

The "Empty Hell" theory is not one of many legitimate "schools of thought." It is a novelty, toyed with early on by Origen and then virtually abandoned until the modern era. The amount of legerdemain and re interpretive manipulation one has to do to Scripture, Magisterial teaching, history and tradition in order to breathe life into the theories of Fr. Barron and Balthasar on this question is appalling. The evidence in favor of the traditional teaching that there are people in Hell outweighs Balthasar and Fr. Barron's positions as a tidal wave overwhelms a sand castle. That this novelty is being defended by some as a legitimate position within the pale of orthodoxy is sad, especially in light of Syllabus of Errors number 17 which explicitly condemns it. It should also be noted, in case one wants to write off Voris, that very respected mainstream priests and theologians also consider Fr. Barron's opinions very troubling, such as Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington (see here) as well as Dr. Scott Hahn, who once stated that Balthasar's theory was absolutely without merit.

I'm not anti-Mark Shea. His book, By What Authority? helped bring me to the Church. But, as Voris said of Fr. Barron, Mark Shea is simply wrong here. I'm not "attacking" him, not "smearing" him, not calling him a heretic. I am just saying he is simply wrong.

Being that we are entering that period of the liturgical year when the readings direct our minds towards the Last Things, for the remainder of November all my posts will relate to this question of Hell, its reality, eternal duration, and the Church's Tradition on this important subject. Next time, I will examine the definitive presence of damned souls in Hell throughout Christian Tradition as established by the Christian sensus fidelium.


Eddie said...

The Epistle of Jude is also useful in refuting the "we can hope Hell is empty" school of thought.

"As Sodom and Gomorrha, and the neighbouring cities, in like manner, having given themselves to fornication, and going after other flesh, were made an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire."

Unknown said...

Thanks for writing this. I would really like to read your thoughts about Spe Salvi though since Fr. Barron uses that in his defense these days.

Anonymous said...

Remember that Jesus also said that it would have been better if Judas had never been born. Though the Church doesn't officially say he is in Hell, those words from Our Lord make it hard to think otherwise.

Ken said...

I think Mr. Shea must be holding steadfastly to the "more flies with honey" school of thought; frankly, I find Mr. Voris and his call-a-spade-a-spade method closer to my own opinion. See (hear, actually) also Fulton Sheen's 1960's era program The Hell There Is on

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Brother Boniface. The Tubby Cat was just coughing-up a Hate Ball. That is what he does and he has had to publicly apologise for befouling the alleys of the internet with his fetid odor and he has made more apologies for such actions - with promises never to do it again - than Mickey Rooney has been married with the difference being that Mickey Rooney's vows are longer lasting.

Great job, brother.

Jack Tollers said...

Not to mention Fatima.

(Oh well, they're so many catholics who absolutely hate Fatima...)


Anonymous said...

These are not just false but 'dangerous notions'. The kind of ideas that corrode the mind and hearts of so many souls, an instrument to the damnation of so many unrepentant souls! Hatred of heresy, is above respect of 'men'!

These are not just false but 'dangerous notions'. The kind of ideas that corrode the mind and hearts of so many 'unrepentant
"And they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever".....Apoc. 20:10
"Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire"......."And these shall go into everlasting punishment."........"Who shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction."......"Every one shall be salted with fire.".......(St. Matt. 25:41; ibid. 46; 2 Thess. 1:9; St. Mark 9:48).......

.......'There fire consumes,' says St. Bernard, 'that it may always preserve.'

....The blessed Isaias also, though living in the desert amidst fasting and penance, wept, saying: 'Unhappy me, for I am not yet free from the danger of hell-fire."

.....and St. John Chrysostom: "If thou namest a thousand hells, thou wilt have said nothing that can compare to such a pain.'

.....St. Thomas......'The pain of the damned is infinite, because it is the loss of an infinite good.'

Ah, my God, I have often deserved such a punishment, since I have many times forsaken sin through the light which Thou gavest me, and then have miserably returned to it?
From this day henceforth Thou shalt be my only love, my only good. O Eternal Father, through the merits of Jesus Christ, I ask of Thee final perseverance in Thy grace and in Thy love. O Mary, my advocate, my refuge, and my hope, obtain for me, by thy intercession, constancy in always asking of God the grace of final perseverance!....Amen.

Jeffrey Coogan said...

Fantastic article! Thank you. It is situations like this that we have bishops for, at least in theory. Where is Fr. Barron's bishop?

Bryan Cross said...


On the Spe Salvi passage, I discussed one way of reading that, at the end of comment #41 under a post on predestination at Called To Communion.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Anonymous said...

'Fantastic article'???

We should rather, lament, weep, at the loss of so many erroneous teachings of the 'wolves in the sheep clothes!!!

Many over-educated religious, as well, as 'lay people'......participate in this 'game of opinions',never considering what impact such heresy has on the 'weak', on the 'ignorant'.....assuming that there's a 'universal salvation'....Hell is just a 'myth'. Miserere!

We should tremble, and reflect, because no one is certain of persevering to the end in the grace of God!

...where there's no hatred of heresy, there's no holiness.....(how true)......Father Faber.

I say.....where's no holiness, there's no fear of God!!!

... 'diabolical orientation'.....sister Lucy.

Our Lady of Fatima, ora pro nobis!

Alexander said...

You have to deal with two problems:

1. "Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ."

You see the neo-Modernist is clever in this area as I have personally witnessed. They will say “of course this is true and that by hoping everyone will be saved is having the hope that everyone will somehow become a member of the true Church of Christ, even if they are not aware” - like implicitly, an anonymous Christian, or something like that.

2. Still others will say that people will go to hell but eventually they will get out, they will try to interpret Scripture as saying it does not indicate that humans will be there forever (as if it says neither they will be there forever nor temporarily – thus its supposedly ambiguous).

This is how they may respond to your post.

Except the extreme one who just declare it to be old silly Tridentine/scholastic theology which if filled with error.

Toma Blizanac said...

"Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ."

Couldn't they just weasel out by saying that what they hope for really is for everyone to be (in the end) in the true Church of Christ with many coming in exactly as they were dying?

John said...

Just a comment, I was taught that the Church did not comment on those in Hell as we are not to judge - that is God's job. Is this correct? And if so if we cannot say who is in Hell it sort of indicates that there are people there?

Anselm said...

1. Interesting to note that, whereas Voris does not actually call Fr. Barron a heretic at any point in his video...

[Nor does he imply it - to say that a teaching is "dangerous" is not implying that it is heretical. There are various grades of theological censure, and dangerous is actually lower on the list than false or erroneous, which is what Voris does accuse Fr. Barron of when he says he is "wrong". Neither rises to the level of heresy.]

...Ludwig Ott actually does imply this very thing when he lists this proposition as de fide: "God, by an eternal resolve of his will, predestines certain men, on account of their foreseen sins, to eternal rejection" (p. 245).

2. Now Ott notes that this is not a *defined* dogma...

[And this is what proponents of Balthasar's position often like to hang their hats on - that the Church has not *defined* the doctrine that some men are reprobate.]

...but Ott judges that its truth is sufficiently proposed in Scripture and/or Tradition to conclude that it has been taught infallibly as a dogma of faith by the ordinary and universal magisterium, making it an undefined dogma.

3. Of course, I do not mean to say that this doctrine is a dogma because Ott says so. That would be an absurd appeal to authority. But it does suggest that Voris is not quite so far out in left field as Shea imagines. Shea's main argument appears to be that, since the propositions "some men will certainly be damned" and "all men might be saved" are both permitted within the Church, Voris is wrong to suggest that the latter proposition should not be permitted within the Church. What he fails even to consider is whether Ott's position is also allowed within the Church. Not only is there a long theological tradition within the Church of holding that some men are damned, there is actually a tradition of holding that this is a dogma.

Shea's argument in propositional form thus appears to be a text-book case of "begging the question," i.e. assuming what you ought to be proving. His argument (as far as I can make it out):

1. Propositions A (that some men are certainly damned) and B (that all men might be saved) are both permitted within the Church.

2. Voris not only says that proposition B is wrong, but implies that it is not (or should not be) permitted within the Church.

3. Therefore Voris is wrong.

Although the premises do appear to prove the conclusion, the argument doesn't hold any water, logically speaking, because the truth of the first premise depends upon the truth of the conclusion. That is, the argument is circular.

What Voris claims is that the reprobation of some men is an infallibly taught truth of Catholic doctrine; Ott claims even more that it is a dogma of divine and Catholic faith. To reply that it is rash and sinful to say so *because* the doctrine is merely an opinion of the schools is, to repeat myself, the fallacy of begging the question. The real debate cannot assume this; it needs to happen precisely over this question: Is it a mere opinion of the schools or is it an infallibly taught doctrine? You have to say this for Voris: at least he is trying to engage in this debate.

And by the way, definitions of doctrine don't usually happen without debates over such questions leading up to them. I would say it's a matter ripe for definition (but I'm not holding my breath.)

God bless.

P.S. To be fair, the other way to read Shea's response, of course, which absolves him of begging the question, is to see it as the bare assertion of the contradictory position. In this version of the exchange Voris argues that the proposition in question is not permitted within the Church, giving various reasons and citing texts from Scripture. Shea responds: IT IS TOO! Then adds: AND YOU'RE A SINNER! BECAUSE YOU SMEAR PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET! (***irony alert***)

Irenaeus of New York said...

I think the first chapter of Acts says that Judas is in hell ("went to his own place"). Jesus also says it would have been better had Judas not been born. I am pretty sure some of the Church Fathers read it this way too.

Jeanna said...

I appreciate the objectivity of this article. When I watched Fr. Barron's full video I realized that he never actually said whether he thought Hell was full or empty (thus he is not supporting the Empty Hell theory), but that he had "reasonable hope that all may be saved." I think it is reasonable to hope that all might be saved because Christ died for all. Fr. Barron basically made an act of hope for all of humanity. There is NO human life that doesn't have access to the hope of Christ.

46. Yet we know from experience that neither case is normal in human life. For the great majority of people—we may suppose—there remains in the depths of their being an ultimate interior openness to truth, to love, to God. In the concrete choices of life, however, it is covered over by ever new compromises with evil—much filth covers purity, but the thirst for purity remains and it still constantly re-emerges from all that is base and remains present in the soul. What happens to such individuals when they appear before the Judge? Will all the impurity they have amassed through life suddenly cease to matter? What else might occur? Saint Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, gives us an idea of the differing impact of God's judgement according to each person's particular circumstances. He does this using images which in some way try to express the invisible, without it being possible for us to conceptualize these images—simply because we can neither see into the world beyond death nor do we have any experience of it. Paul begins by saying that Christian life is built upon a common foundation: Jesus Christ.
-Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi

Now that being said we know that hell is very real and that the path is wide. Christ himself talked about the many who will deny themselves access to Christ's graces and chose that destructive path. However, when it comes to passing judgment on who specifically is in hell that is reserved for God alone. The Church canonizes saints, but does not speak as to who specifically is in hell.

“This poses two questions when it comes to explaining what happened [with Judas]. The first consists in asking ourselves how it was possible that Jesus chose this man and trusted him. In fact, though Judas is the group's administrator (cf. John 12:6b; 13:29a), in reality he is also called "thief" (John 12:6a). The mystery of the choice is even greater, as Jesus utters a very severe judgment on him: "Woe to that man by whom the son of man is betrayed!" (Matthew 26:24). This mystery is even more profound if one thinks of his eternal fate, knowing that Judas "repented and brought back the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying 'I have sinned in betraying innocent blood'" (Matthew 27:3-4). Though he departed afterward to hang himself (cf. Matthew 27:5), it is not for us to judge his gesture, putting ourselves in God's place, who is infinitely merciful and just.”
-Pope Benedict XVI

As Pope Pius IX pointed out in Quanto Conficiamur:

7. Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.

Jeanna said...

Fr. Barron's thing is the New Evangelization, and his approach is gentler.

“No virtue is as attractive as gentleness. If you throw little pieces of bread into a pond the fish will come fearlessly up to your feet, but if you throw rocks, they will swim away and hide. The evangelist has got to moderate his zeal with gentleness.”
St. Anthony Mary Claret

When the apostles first went out to evangelize they did so by proclaiming the good news...that the gates of Heaven are now open and salvation is possible to mankind. The Great Commission is to spread the Good News. They didn't go out like the Calvinists do and tell everyone else that they are going to hell.

I think Voris's fire and brimstone has a place too, but his audience tends to be people who are already faithful Catholics and who are trying to understand the signs of the times. They are in a different place than Fr. Barron's audience, and are able to digest the complexities of the issues he discusses more readily.

There are groups of Catholics who focus primarily on the justice of God and other groups of Catholics who focus mostly on God’s mercy. I think the truly balanced approach is to realized that God is both justice and mercy.

Robert James McLeod said...

A Bishop once shared the following: "Christ offers salvation to all...sometimes by a means known only to God!"

The world of man and especially the Church have used the strategy of threats (prison and damnation) to evoke a desired behaviour from its citizens and followers. I suspect Christ was no different. The Lord didn't have a lot of time for discussion and consensus so the "do it or else" strategy is understandable.

The construct of Hell is reasonably questionable. It makes God appear to be absurd to have created a mere human, highly inclined to sin, instilled with the gift of free will in his heart, smear him with original sin and then demand perfection, holiness and purity by life's end where failure is eternal damnation and torment in the unquenchable fire where there will be grinding and gnashing of teeth. Really? Not the God I worship!

The threat of hell is simply a tool, and in the hands of the "faithful" a weapon, to assert control of the masses to keep the pews full and the collection basket overflowing.

Truly I tell you...

NCB said...

Dear Boniface,

Could you please say where does Dr. Scott Hahn states that Balthasar's theory on the "empty Hell" was "absolutely without merit."?
It would be very useful.

Thank you very much,

Boniface said...

Nuno CB-

This comment was made in one of Dr. Hahn's recorded talks. I heard it probably 2003-2004ish, and I do not recall which book of the Bible he was commenting on. I think it was either Gospel of John or Matthew, but it got to a passage about our Lord talking about the Judgment and Dr. Hahn, as a side remark, commented that Balthasar's theory was without merit. It was not said in writing, but on a cassette, and I could not tell you where exactly, but on my honor, I give you my word that he said this.

Anonymous said...

I was fine with what Father Barron said; he is just saying that we can hope that all people will be saved. We say in the Fatima prayer "lead ALL souls to heaven and especially those in most need of thy mercy". Now why are there no Conservatives talking down the Fatima prayer? We say that prayer even though we can't know that people will be saved and we have to accept the possibility of hell. Fr. Barron was right. We have to hope and pray that all will be saved, but know that hell is a real possibility.

Boniface said...


The Fatima prayer humbly asks God that all men might be saved.

Balthasar takes this further and says we can confidently assume that this in fact will (and has) happened.

When we pray "lead all souls to heaven" it is not taken to mean that not a single person will go to Hell, but it is a prayer that as many people as possible who can go to heaven will, but we already know that not all will. We merely implore God to cast the net as wide as possible; but we know that how wide He will cast is already known to Him and that some will be excluded.

Anonymous said...

@Boniface: And when Father Barron says that we can "reasonably" "hope" that all will be saved, but we don't know for sure and that hell is possible because of free will. It is the same thing. He is hoping that; as you say: "God casts the net as wide as possible".

I'm making the point that no one accuses the Fatima prayer of being misleading, but don't be a priest and say something similar. You'll be accused by Voris of not being technically wrong, but intentionally misleading. That is just wrong. Has anyone ever thought that all this traditional versus progressive Catholic battles is exactly what the Devil wants?

Boniface said...

Actually, there are traditionalists who attack the Fatima prayer for this very reason.

Boniface said...

Right now, this very moment, God already does lead all souls to Heaven by the sufficient graces that He gives to every single human being. We pray in the Fatima prayer for God to have mercy on all men; and He does by giving them all the grace to be saved - the fact is, not all men want to be saved, want this grace, will use it.

This is different from what Fr. Barron asserts - Fr. Barron asserts that God's grace will in fact become efficacious in the case of every single circumstance.

It is apples to oranges.

Anonymous said...

@Boniface "Fr. Barron asserts that God's grace will in fact efficacious in the case of every single circumstance".

NO HE DOES NOT SAY THAT. In fact! he clearly says that we can NOT know that everyone will be saved. It is fine to say we can have a "reasonable" "hope" that all will be saved. This is why we can ask God to lead all souls to heaven and not just be saying prayers in vane, it is reasonable to hope for that and we do.

Did you watch his video, or just the Michael Voris video? Because I feel you are really misquoting him.

Unknown said...

Well, if he is supporting Von Balthazar, he is also giving credence to the idea that God would have 'lost His gamble' if not everyone is saved. Never mind that since Satan and the angels fell, God has already 'lost'. Which again, gives us the idea that Von Balthazar really did privately hold that ALL will be restored in the end, including that the demons will be eventually saved. It is a mindblowingly arrogant position that is in fact very dangerous in its implications, does violence to scripture and tradition and as far as I'm concerned, a lie from the devil.

Unknown said...

That prayer is just like the glory be saying world without end. The world will end, duh. It's just an exaggeration or some such thing. I heard somewhere the end of the prayer was tacked on anyway though I can't be sure of that.

Anonymous said...

This different from what Fr. Barron asserts - Fr. Barron asserts that God's grace will in fact become efficacious in the case of every single circumstance.

That is false, you didn't watch the video, if that is what you think he believes.

Catholic Mission said...

Fr.Barron -except for the saints, and the Holy Family, the Church does not say anyone is in Heaven

Boniface said...


I did watch the video. I know he did not say that explicitly, but that is the implication. Let me explain:

1) Every human being is given sufficient grace for salvation.

2) However, in order to actually go to heaven, this grace has to become efficacious - i.e., become sanctifying. Theologians debate whether sufficient grace becomes sanctifying grace or whether this grace is different, but the point is, sufficient grace must become efficacious and bring about sanctifying grace.

3) Everyone who goes to heaven has died in some degree of sanctifying grace, which means the sufficient grace became efficacious.

4)Therefore, if we are hoping that everyone goes to heaven, we are hoping that every single person's sufficient grace becomes efficacious and that every single person dies with some degree of sanctifying grace.

5) The implication of Fr Barron's "hope' is that is it reasonable to hope that every single human being dies in sanctifying grace.

6) Unless he wants to posit a manner in which sanctifying grace is communicated after death, but such a position would be clearly against the teaching of the Church, which has constantly taught that our chance to obtain this grace ends with death.

Anonymous said...

The implication of Fr Barron's "hope' is that is it reasonable to hope that every single human being dies in sanctifying grace.

See you're twisting it again. He said it is okay to reasonably hope NOT it is reasonable to hope.

In other words you can hope with in reason of what we know. And we know (as he states) that hell is a possibility (for us) b/c of freedom. It would be an unreasonable hope to say that hell can not exist.

Unknown said...

My condensed way of thinking this through is this: Christ says, “He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matthew (NAB) 25:45f.)

How can it be pious to respond, “I hope that is not true”?


Anonymous said...

Quite so! Two other points, though I may have missed them in the article, by way of rhetorical questions.

1) When He descended to the dead, did Christ liberate *every single soul* onto the path of the vision of God? (Cd. CCC 633 for the obvious answer.) Ergo....

2) Why would God have prepared Hell for *the devil and the demons* (Mt 25:31 ff) if He knew it would be for nothing? (Indeed, why would Christ *prophecy* that He *shall* send the goats to perdition, if He were just putting us all on?)

Sigh. I love Origen, but this fruity Origenist claptrap needs to die again. Logically, we can never look a person in the eye and say, "I know for a fact that you will go to Hell," but we must be able to say, "If you persist in [SIN] without repenting, you will assuredly end up in Hell."

As for God leading "all souls to Heaven," it is already His will (1 Tim 2:4), and thus a valid and holy prayer. However, just as Protestants like to say that "all have sinned" means Mary can't be sinless, so we see a wooden exegesis of the term "all" in the Fatima prayer. It is simply asking that all souls for whom it is logically possible (i.e. not those already damned), be saved. On one level, the problem is no more difficult than asking a rancher to lead all his horses to water. The result? Well....

Anonymous said...

And what about Luc. 16; 19-31?

[24] And he called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz'arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.'
[25] But Abraham said, `Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz'arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.
[26] And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.'


Boniface said...


Interestingly enough, in Spe Salvi, BXVI seems to suggest that passage refers to the Limbo of the Fathers, not to Hell of the damned.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Not the God I worship!

Dear Zacheaus. Agreed. You do not worship the God of revelation but a God of your own construct; that is you worship your own self.

There is still time to repent; don't waste it building and burning ideological straw men.

Dave Armstrong said...

I noted in that thread that Jesus talked a lot more about hell than of heaven (some 90 references). But someone even disputed *that*! I couldn't believe it. I thought it was rather common knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Boniface, well, the fathers could cross from there to heaven after Redemption. And it seems a permanent prohibition that of Abraham. I don't know much theology, but I did read "The Divine Comedy", and there weren't fire in the limbo. Neither suffering.


Boniface said...


You should read Alyssa Lyra Pitstick's book on Balthasar and the Descent. In that work, she goes over the Church's understanding of the Limbo of the fathers and demonstrates that the fact that the wicked were in torment but the Fathers were not and could be translated to heaven eventually is not an argument that they are two different places, but she does say that even in that temporary spot, the wicked were already experiencing the pains of Hell.

Palpy said...

Yes, yes, more comments! Good, good... I can feel your anger...

Boniface said...


I don't know what you're getting at...not feeling that anyone here is "angry". I have noted that when discussing this with Balthasarians, though, they try to frame the discussion in an ad hominem way ("What, so you WANT people to go to Hell!? That's not very charitable!") by God, I do not want anybody to go to Hell, but at the same time, I think I would be naive to suggest it doesn't happen.

Palpy said...

By Gandalf's sparkly beard, Boniface. I was only joking. It's a Star Wars reference.

Boniface said...

Sorry, Palpy. I did think it sounded Star Wars-ish after the fact.

Anselm said...

"But though He died for all, yet all do not receive the benefit of His death, but those only to whom the merit of His passion is communicated."

Anonymous said...

Pope St. Pius X: “Our Predecessor, Benedict XIV, had just cause to write: “We declare that a great number of those who are condemned to eternal punishment suffer that everlasting calamity because of ignorance of those mysteries of faith which must be known and believed in order to be numbered among the elect.”” (Acerbo Nimis)

Here Pius X and Benedict XIV affirm that some people do end up losing their souls and that some of them do so because of their ignorance of the saving mysteries.

--Chris, the waffling ex-sedevacantist

Unknown said...

'I have noted that when discussing this with Balthasarians, though, they try to frame the discussion in an ad hominem way ("What, so you WANT people to go to Hell!? That's not very charitable!")' yep, that is a very good observation. I have found the same to be true. Balthasar apparently was very concerned with how people felt knowing that their relatives who quit coming to Mass were going to hell and his theology was the 'solution' to make them feel better. so, the whole thing is VERY MUCH based on feelings. that's why it doesn't make any sense and offends piety as someone said on up the page.

Robert James McLeod said...

Is it not a truism that all believers must construct an understanding of God as best they can? I am all I have. I worship God through the corridors of life and animation of the self. It is an absolute necessity that I exercise personal discernment of all constructs of faith. Hell is near the top of the list. History teaches that fear has always been the ultimate master teacher. Compliance is the outcome, fear of Hell is the methodology. A human construct no doubt.

Enoch said...

Jenna wrote:

"The great commission is to spread the good news. They [Apostles] didn't go out like the Calvinists do and tell everyone else that they are going to hell."

The Catholic Church teaches that while we are allowed to have fear of Hell, it is better to avoid sin because of love of God, and that we don't want to displease Him. But not everyone can avoid sin out of love for God. Catholic do not have the tendency to go arounf like the Calvinists and tell everyone that they are going to hell. This is an exaggeration on your part, Jenna.

Fr. Barron's position is more Protestant than Catholic. Many Protestants believe in justification; in that a Christian only need believe in Jesus to be saved. But if this is the case, why would there be a need to grow in holiness? There wouldn't be a need at all, since all are saved anyway. Sin wouoldn't exist, either, since salvation is guaranteed, no matter what.

I do agree that there needs to be a balance. But those of us who insist that there is a Hell and that we can easily end up there if we aren't careful are not denying God's justice and mercy. They go hand in hand. What need would there even be of mercy if all are to be saved anyway?

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...


Unfortunately, you seem to be bound hand and foot by the usual Kantian claptrap. We can believe in divine revelation, therefore faith in God is impossible.

Anonymous said...

It is exactly this kind of thinking "that we could possibly not go to hell" that a lot of our sheep is lost. The very thing that will bring destruction to us Christians--no consequences to our sins. This is what the devil wants. Our complacency.
Why is there such urgency for us to pray, pray, pray (urged by the Virgin Mary in Medjugorje and Fatima) if there is no need to fear? If we don't believe in Medjugorje and Fatima and praying for each other, then what makes us different from the Protestants?
We have to start accepting the truth that our church is going to be infiltrated by the evil one. That's why we pray for our priests. To protect them. And we also should pray that the Holy Spirit comes to us and open our eyes to the truth.

Enoch said...

Anonymous wrote:

"And we should also pray that the Holy Spirit comes to us and opens our eyes to the truth."

Yes, the Holy Ghost can open our eyes, but the Holy Ghost has been working and active in Holy Mother Church since the Church began on Pentacost in the upper room.

All we need to know for the salvation of our souls has already been given through Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, holy popes, doctors of the Church, and the saints. It is our job to use these resources, as well as attend Holy Mass, and pray and practice sound devotions, and make proper use of the sacraments, especially that of Penance.

If there is no Hell, as some Catholics now seem to think is a possibility, then it has all been for naught, which I refuse to believe.

NCB said...

Dear Boniface,

Thank you for your answer on Dr. Scott Hahn's comments.

Great posts!,

Unknown said...

For the sake of discussion I wanted to share my response to Voris from the other side of the aisle. For anyone interested please read my article addressing Voris' video:

James said...

Sad to say, the teaching of Blessed Pius IX is not that popular these days - not ecumenical enough, too Catholic.

Your weblog is a delight.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"that the Church's alleged "silence" on the definitive presence of anyone in Hell is not due to any support for the empty-hell theory, but due to the fact that the definitive presence of any one soul in Hell is not part of Divine Revelation and therefore outside the pale of the Church's competence to define."

One named man at least : Judas Ischariot.

Quite arguably a few others : Herod Agrippa who died while accepting divine worship, Antiochus Epiphanes, Nimrod.

Two presumably men (or at least one of them a man) unnamed : False Prophet and Beast (the word Antichrist is used usually of Beast in tradition, but is not forreign to false prophet either).

We have not been told who will fill these roles, except indirectly by a reference to gematria. Apocalypse 13:18.

But these roles will be filled.

I have some ideas of how present persons (or one of them) might be identified.

Also, Our Lord said more walk the broad road than who walk the narrow one. Implying sth about the number of the lost, I would say.

If the statement were only true about one given moment, the trend might be reversed, but it seems He meant "at any given moment" (excepting perhaps when Adam and Eve were alone outside Eden and already penitent).

Only since those dying are less numerous than the rest could one hope for lots of last-moment conversions, and these are very much less likely outside the Catholic Church and Catholics are a minority world wide anyway, though a larger one than any other.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

I forgot the rich man and the robber on the left side.

Chris said...

Michael Voris is as straight as a $3 bill

Boniface said...

Haha. God knows. But it doesn't change any of the facts about Robert Barron or Baltazar