The Catholic Universalist - Feeling Hypocritical


I don’t really agree with the Catholic understanding of mortal and venial sins and the categories of sins and the listing that can derive from it. I think it results from first turning the ransom metaphor into a legal Roman court metaphor and clouding the imagery given through the ransom metaphor in the NT and elsewhere and then taking that analogy which a referent to concrete realities (itself already a little misunderstood with a different metaphor then intended) with the concrete reality itself (understanding of course within Roman Catholic discourse and thought it gets much more complex and nuanced then this simplistic presentation but I think this is still leads to some deeper misunderstandings and problems, such as the above were it is presented without further elaboration). Of course the same misunderstanding is present it much of Protestantism just with different ways of working out but leads I think to it’s own problems though this is changing in a number of places. (and within Roman Catholicism itself I think).

However with that preface if my views the following link from a Roman Catholic theologian and persist might help as it indicates that it isn’t in this view a mortal sin to miss Mass while still being faithful ad a Catholic but only venial. Only if you abandoned or turned from it or the Church or Christ altogether. Anyway give it a read Kate and I hope it brings some relief, also remember those Catholic rules ae have discussed in our pms and don’t feel guilt for confessed sin or let it or listen to it telling you are guilty when it is gone (if you do feel it is a sin in the first place, if you aren’t sure then act in confidence it is not) and don’t let the thoughts bother you again :slight_smile: . … miss-mass/


Kate, you might want to take a look at this essay by the Polish theologian Waclaw Hryniewicz: “Universal Salvation.” As far as I know, he was never disciplined by the CDF for advancing his universalist views.



If you like all this structure than go ahead and stay. But let me just say something. You do not get to the top by going by the rules. These rules will hold you down in life. I’m breaking free from them once and for all. They do not bring freedom. I like to live and love from my heart. You know why I love from the heart? Because it brings joy to people when you love them for them. Not because the rules tell you to.


I’m Catholic as well. I understand exactly where you are coming from. The Catholic Church is the closest church to a denominational church that I have found where there is some sympathy in some corners for hopeful universalism while at the same time clearly holding onto pro-life, pro-traditional family moral beliefs. I stay because I don’t feel as if I have anywhere else to go.

Perhaps you might enjoy Father Robert Barron’s commentary on hell: … Empty.aspx


Hi Bart, as someone who is not a Catholic but comes from a half Quaker/half Anglican Catholic perspective I read the posts that go with the video with great interest. There is all the stuff about people’s scruples concerning the contradiction between the Fatima revelations and Teresa of Avila’s visions and von Balthassar’s teachings to either shout up for hell to somehow harmonise with Catholic hopeful universalism. Hmmm - that’s all very Catholic; very interesting from an outsiders point of view - and I loved the lone voice who confidently spoke up for Mother Julian (good lass).

There’s stuff about the status of St Thomas Aquinas who clearly taught in his Summa that the saved would look down from the ramparts of the walled city of New Jerusalem and take a sober and dignified satisfaction in watching the torments of the damned - not raucous with mockery as in the fantasies of Tertullian and some Calvinists - but an almost smug satisfaction. Thomas also said many other things that I find clear and admirable and other thing that I find abominable. But it must be the Protestant in me that doesn’t get phased by arguments from authority - and I’m pleased to see that there are free thinking Catholics to counter the authoritarians on the thread (and they resemble most of the Catholics I know in the UK actually - one of my dearest colleagues ever is Catholic).

I note that there have been some Catholic Bishops in America who have come out strongly in favour of the Catholic hellfire tradition. I’m not impressed, having some knowledge of how the empahses of the morbid and terror funded teachings of St Alphonsus Liguori were used in my country (the UK) to terrify children; and, allied doses of vicious corporal punishment by teacher priests who had the power of the confessional did much to lead to a culture of abuse (and I must add that the hierarchy of Bishops in England - who tended to be wise old birds - did what they could to counter the effects of Liguorinism in popular Catholicism). It’s a weird one the Catholic Bishops on America who speak up for hellfire and about the converts from Calvinism to Catholicism who assert that Catholicism and Calvinism are basically the same thing (to the annoyance of those who are better schooled in their faith). I haven’t seen that in the UK.

I’m glad you’ve found a home in Catholicism which is consonant with both your universalism and with pro life pro traditional family beliefs. I’m sure some here find other Churches supply the same for them (I think The Greek Orthodox Church is pretty consistent in their teaching here too for example). The full scope of Catholic pro life teaching is anti the death penalty, anti militarism (wihtout being pacifist), anti abortion and euthanasia, anti contraception, strongly in favour of the social market rather against libertarian ideas, and, under the present Pope, while not condoning homosexual activity or advocating gay marriage is becoming increasingly compassionate towards gay people (which is a departure from Benedict, his predecessor). So as well as the other social issues I hope to touch base with you on the abolition of the death penalty, justice towards to poor, and giving a proper critique of libertarianism sometime.

I really like the new Pope - he’s a moral conservative for which he has my respect - but he does have a pastoral flexibility (the result of always remaining in contact with real people) and is more concerned with the positive message of Catholicism - with stressing what it is for as much if not more so than what it is against:)



Theologians. Who needs them!

Actually, I am glad there are theologians who can give us different points of view, but the Catechism of the Catholic Church came down on the side of hopeful universalism no matter what Augustine or Thomas Aquinas might have said.


I agree completely (but it was interesting trawling through those comments and getting and insight into diversity of views and of attitudes within Catholics - which I’m so well aware of)




Now, for a sin to be “mortal,” it must fit three criteria:

Grave matter. And missing Mass is specified as “grave matter.”
Full knowledge. You need to know fully that what you are doing is a sin and you need to know that it is grave. That is, I know the Church teaches that missing Mass is grave.
Full consent. You need to do it deliberately with complete consent. Some Sundays, I just don’t attend Mass. Most Catholics have missed Mass at one time or another for no reason other than to sleep in or attend a baseball game. If they never confess, apparently it’s the everlasting BBQ for them. :open_mouth:

I also think the RCC has incorporated some positive trends as they realize they must be more inclusive to survive. Like most churches or denominations they can’t help taking some positions that are self serving because the institution is run by human beings who truly believe in it. So the Eucharist as described by Jesus was “as often as you do it” has been interpreted as anywhere from a daily event to a monthly event to an annual event. By taking their position the RCC gives itself immense power because only they control the Mass which by extension means they control salvation. Some other doctrines the RCC holds to like mortal sin also have at it’s root the same motivation which is “control.” The leaders of the RCC may truly believe that many of these doctrines are “good” and done for righteous reasons but they go way beyond what scripture calls for IMHO.


Well… I guess the recent Great Catechism came down in favor of hopeless punishment being certainly real, plus agnosticism about whether anyone actually experiences the real hopeless punishment. :confused:

I think the implication though was that rebel angels definitely experience it (since if no one certainly experiences it, it cannot be actually real, only potentially real as a threat at best). It’s been a while since I hit the relevant statements.


What is an EU approach, then, to 1 John 5:16 " - - - . There is a sin that leads to death. - - - "?

Is there a thread somewhere on that?


I’d like to hear that too, Carrots, and I don’t know whether Jason has posted on it yet in his exegetical compilation topic. [tag]JasonPratt[/tag]


Yes, please do, Jason. :slight_smile: I read an Christian Universast response to this and will try to find it after work, as well.


Hey Kate!

I’ve decided to go Catholic. I need a little more structure in my life. :smiley: I love that picture of you. You are very pretty!


I remember contributing years ago to a fairly wide discussion of it on a thread here; back during our first year I think. Heh, in my giant compilation notesheet, which is still missing a huge number of things I haven’t even ported to that yet (aside from more research needed on some topics), I have a stub entry saying go to the forum and port in my discussion of it! :laughing:

The overly short answer until I can get there is that the Greek of the sentence involved is notoriously goofy in its grammar, and can mean that John is asking a little rhetorically “Is there a sin that leads to death? I am saying do not ask me about this!”, thus questioning whether there is any sin that would render a person outside the prayers of Christians for their salvation from sin.

I’m glad someone reminded me of it though; I need to find my notes and port them in.

I will also note in passing that, in combination with 1 John 3:8 about the works of the devil being destroyed, if there was a sin such that no Christian should pray for the sinner’s salvation from that sin (which just sounds ridiculous when spelled out like that but whatever), the death would be annihilation not any kind of ongoing sin.

(So I’ll drop my notes on that so far, until I can find what I wrote about 5:16! :laughing: )

By the context of 1 John 3:8 the work of the devil is the practicing of sin. (e.g. “The children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:10 only two verses later.) We all however were children of the devil in that sense, whether to the smallest degree, and in some sense we thus remain until we become perfectly righteous as God is righteous – nothing less than that! (“Little children, let no one deceive you: the one who practices righteousness is righteous just as He [God] is righteous!” v.7)

If sin is not eventually completely destroyed, so that no one is doing unrighteousness anymore, then a chief purpose of God in the Incarnation and Passion has been finally and ultimately frustrated, whether by God’s own decree or (worse??) by Satan or other created sinners doing works of unrighteousness stronger than God’s salvation!

This must involve either annihilation of sinners without repentance, or universal salvation of sinners from sin. But to destroy the works of even the devil himself is not necessarily to destroy the person of even the devil himself, or else we all would be annihilated instead of saved from our sins. The question either remains open or, by this testimony, at least slightly in favor of final salvation (not annihilation) of sinners.


Okay, phew, after several hours of trying to figure out what happened here at the office (one of our routers finally bit the dust), I’m back online and have (finally!) found my notes in an old thread from 2008.

I need to update and redraft them considerably – I think I was translating them a little wrongly, not taking account of a dative form for part of the grammar. Still neutral to universalism or not for various reasons, but I’ll post the collated argument in an Exegetical Compilation entry sometime in the next several days.


Thanks for the explanation, Jason, and thank you for the kind words, Cole.:slight_smile: Jason, I look forward to reading what else the forum had to say on this in the past.:slight_smile:

I’ve come to take it as God can’t work in someone who stubborn refuses to repent, thus such a sin is a “sin unto death.” That person refuses to accept life freely offered, and therefore can’t be open to receiving it. I’ve translated it according to how Sonia described a few years back in an earlier thread:

Of course, this doesn’t render the situation hopeless-- just that such hardened sinners must endure purification now until God opens their minds to life.

The thread which contains that quote is here:

[What is the sin unto death?)


I think I argued that was a reasonable interpretation, too. :slight_smile: At least theologically – I don’t think the theory covers the local context data quite as well.


Hey [tag]Kate[/tag]! Are you still out there? Id love to discuss all this from a catholic perspective!!! Ive been confirmed a Catholic for 2 years…


As long as this is a Roman Catholic thread, I thought I would bring this up. There is a book I liked and read entitled Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian by Paul F. Knitter. He is a Roman Catholic, professor of Catholic theology, a former Roman Catholic priest and a practicing Zen Buddhist. It has also gotten good reviews and ratings on Amazon. In the article Catholic Church Opens Up To Yoga And Meditation, it said this:

Any thought from our Roman Catholic contributors here? Or anyone else, for that matter!

I also found this article What are the differences between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism? interesting.

Don’t worry about any challenges. Personally, I like the philosophy of Japanese Jujitsu and Aikido. Don’t start fights and avoid them at all costs. But if someone attacks me with a “virtual” knife or punch, I turn the opponent’s force against them.


It is not a sin to not attend a mass. It is a good habit to meet with believers, but not being there will not mean you will go to hell, not literally. You will not lose salvation for not attending, if you were in prison or something I don’t understand how you could be expected to go. Also it is true that many enter hell, Jesus said that. As for the meditation comment, I suggest staying away from yoga. Meditation is to focus on a singular topic in your mind. I.e meditating on the word of god is to recite it in your mind.
‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’ - Philippians 4:8.
‘You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.’ - Isaiah 26:3.
‘I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.’ - Psalm 119:48
Be careful of what you learn attending any congregation or even what the pope has said. Many are deceived. Grace be with you. Amen.