|The new head of the CDF, perhaps illustrating the possibility of hell|
To put things in simple common sense terms, everyone knows that the Catholic Church and the wider traditional Christian Church has always taught that there is a heaven and there is a hell. Ignoring the theological glosses - limbo and purgatory - Christian and Catholic teaching has been clear that upon death, some men will go to heaven, where they will dwell with God forever, and some men will go to hell, where they will dwell with Satan and the other damned, forever. This teaching is firmly based on the words of our Lord in the Bible. Open it up to any place where hell is mentioned, and you will find Jesus stating it, always in strong terms.
Even at the time of the Christian Fathers, there were those who rejected this teaching. They came to be called universalists, or those who believe that salvation is universal - all men will go to heaven. Universalism was always considered a heresy in the Christian Church, and "officially" so in the Catholic Church. This has, of course, not prevented offshoot universalist Christian sects from forming - the Unitarian Universalists being the most aptly named modern example.
The twentieth and twenty-first century has seen a growth in universalist sentiment within the Catholic Church. But, since it's the Catholic Church, which contains a recognized body of Doctrine, an official catechism of teachings and all the rest, the tendency has always been couched in language that stops short of fully and explicitly endorsing universalist claims. So to use the claims of one of contemporary universalism's most well-known spokesmen, Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles, riffing of the arguments of a few heterodox twentieth century Catholic theologians, while there might be a hell, that doesn't mean that anyone is actually in it. Or to use his own well-known formulation, we have good reason to hope that everyone will be saved.
From the point of view of logic, he may be right. But also from the point of view of logic, if he is right, then either the Gospels inaccurately recorded the words of our Lord, or our Lord is a liar.
Today, Pope Francis appointed a new head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - the Catholic body entrusted with defending Catholic doctrine and teaching - replacing Cardinal Gerhard Müller, who had become a sort of enemy in his attempts to defend (albeit, often tepidly) Catholic doctrine from Begoglio's predations.
The new head of the CDF is a jesuit Archbishop by the name of Luis Ladaria Ferrer.
Ladaria is a universalist.
I'm not going to go into a long analytical discussion of Ladaria's publicly expressed position, but it basically tracks Barron's more well-known claims - there is a hell, but it's possible, probable, or we have good reason to hope that no one actually goes there.
Ladaria's views were laid out in the appropriately titled, Jesus Christ: Salvation of All. Here are some relevant excerpts. These are not cherry-picked, but among other things, include passages that Ladaria himself chose to read out in public, now available (of course) on YouTube:
The saving influence of Jesus and his Spirit know no bounds: Christ’s mediation is universal. Salvation in Christ is possible for all humanity, and on the horizon of theological reflection. The hope may arise that this salvation will indeed reach everyone. Salvation itself would become denaturalized if its absolute certainty would be affirmed and if we lost sight of the possibility of damnation [p. 12].
[T]his universality includes more than it excludes, among other reasons because the unique mediation of Jesus cannot be separated from God’s will of universal salvation (1Tim 2:3–5) [p. 96].
We are all called to place ourselves within the body of the [Catholic] Church, which will not reach its fullness until the whole human race and the entire universe has been completely renewed. Christian faith begins with the premise of the unity of humanity as a whole because of its origins in Adam, and above all, because of its destiny in Christ. It is inconceivable that salvation, as it is presented in the New Testament, is only for Christians and not for those who do not know Christ [p. 117].
We may also add the early Christian conviction that hell is something neither wanted nor created by God. Maintaining the possibility [my emphasis] of eternal damnation is the only guarantee of the truth and reality of the salvation offered to us, which is nothing less than God’s love [pp. 130-131].
Jesus includes everyone and excludes no one, and all of us have received his fullness (cfr. John 1:16). The universality of salvation and unity of Christ’s mediation mutually affirm each other [p. 144].
Yet by dying, he gave us life, that is the life of his resurrection. Even those who do not know him are called to this divine vocation, that is, to the perfect sonship in and through Christ. Christians and non-Christians reach this goal by virtue of the gift of the Spirit that associates us with the unique paschal ministry of Christ even if it is through diverse paths known only to God [p. 148-149].
Again, obviously, Ladaria always stops short of saying, "I'm a heretical universalist. Everyone is going to heaven." But the meaning is clear. And of course, Ladaria would never claim that he is a heretic or even heterodox to in the least. Rather, he is simply more deeply describing the evolving understanding of doctrine.
Or some such.
And as always with these things, much of what he says is undeniably orthodox. Yes, God calls us all to Him. He wants us all to be saved. Jesus died so all of us could be saved. Is he denying hell? By no means, but we do not know who is in it. Perhaps (as a matter of logic) no one is. Shouldn't we hope that to be the case? And so on and so forth.
Well, according to what Jesus said, and is recorded to have done: there were people in hell, there are now, and there undoubtedly will be many more.
No reasonable Catholic can affirm that that's exactly a comforting thought. But there are many things that Jesus said that are not exactly comforting. He was sent to teach us - with soft words and hard ones, but always true ones, and always with our good in mind - by our Father, not our touchy-feely shrink.
But here's what Christ did say: trust in me and come to me, through (as the Church He founded would from the very beginning assert) the Church I created, and you will be saved. I will save you if you sincerely ask me to. And you will live with me forever in heaven.
To me, that's the most comforting thing in the world.
The universalist version of that is a counterfeit. It's un-Christian, un-Catholic and will inevitably lead to many more souls being permanently separated from God and damned forever. It's a lie.
And the current occupant of the throne of St. Peter is spreading it.