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Is there a more urgent, vital question than what happens to you after you die? Despite misunderstandings about what purgatory or limbo are, the Catholic Church, following Scripture and Tradition, teaches with highest authority that there are only two eternal destinies: heaven and hell.
If you read the Gospels and pay attention to what Jesus says about hell, you’ll be surprised how often and how seriously He warns us about it. But are these merely “warnings”? Is Jesus bluffing to teach a lesson? Could hell, in fact, be empty?
The influential Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988) wrote many books, including his last, and most controversial, Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved? The fact that he raises the question signals his answer: yes, we not only “dare” but must hope that 100% of humanity is saved.
This notion has insinuated itself in Catholic preaching and teaching. It doesn’t purport to deny the existence of hell (Balthasar positioned himself as an orthodox Catholic thinker), so much as imagine an empty hell since the Church has no “decanonization” process that names individuals as damned, not even Judas—at least not by name.
It’s fair to say that the main promoter of von Balthasar’s empty hell proposal is auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, Bishop Robert Barron. Perhaps Bishop Barron will accept our invitation to come on the show and discuss the matter openly. I hope so because a lot is at stake regarding the urgent need to evangelize and to understand what the Catholic Church has taught for 2000 years on the reality of hell.
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Doesn’t the sheer fact that the church teaches that humanity is divided in the end by two categories—the saved and the damned—prove that Balthasar’s theory is wrong?
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