Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Sunday, May 06, 2012

The pope, the SSPX, and hell

News at The Tablet - SSPX welcomes 'for many' instruction ...

The German branch of the Society of St Pius X has welcomed the Pope's decision to require the text of the Mass to say that Christ died "for many" instead of "for all". Germany's Lefebvrists say on their website that the Pope was "absolutely right to correct this hair-raisingly incorrect translation", adding that questions like "Doesn't everyone go to heaven?" would now resurface.

This reminded me of 2009n article at the Jesuit spirituality journal The Way by Wolfgang Beinert, who taught dogmatic theology and doctrinal history at the University of Regensburg, Germany - Road Narrows at the Vatican? Did Christ Die ‘For Many’ or ‘For All’? (you can download the for free article from the July 2009 issue, Found in Translation, at The Way). Here's part of the article ....

Road Narrows at the Vatican? Did Christ Die ‘For Many’ or ‘For All’?
- Wolfgang Beinert

[A] fundamental question concerning the basic teachings of the Christian religion: who can hope for final salvation? Did Christ die on the cross for all people, or only for some? Have we resurrected Augustine’s teachings according to which humanity is a massa damnata, condemned to Hell collectively, with only a few being picked out for mercy? Is the Roman Catholic Church once again to be presented as the ‘only source of holiness’, even though it has distanced itself from this understanding since 1854, and particularly clearly in the last Council? Or is there finally a ‘universal reconciliation’—in Greek apokatastasis—as Origen maintained in the early Church? (Long after his death, Origen was condemned by the Church for this opinion.) Will absolutely everybody get to heaven—even Hitler, Himmler, Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein?

Such questions are far from abstract and academic. They always involve asking ‘What about me? What chance do I have?’ Countless people suffer indescribably under the threat that they might be destined for eternal damnation ..... Arinze writes ‘at [the Pope’s] direction’. Is this only a standard formula, or is it meant literally? According to his own statement, Joseph Ratzinger’s Eschatology, published shortly before he became Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977, and printed in a new edition in 2007, is one of his most important works. In it he discusses the teaching of Origen on universal salvation (a teaching which is also to be found in Buddhism). This, he concludes, does not follow ‘from the biblical witness …. The irrevocable takes place, and that includes ... eternal destruction.’ This conclusion is surprising, since Ratzinger’s close theological friend Hans Urs von Balthasar thought quite differently and was very sympathetic towards Origen .......

The real significance of the debate set in motion by the letter lies in its dogmatic background. It concerns God’s saving power and humanity’s hope for salvation ..... It may well be that God wills the salvation of all people in Christ—but does God put this will into effect? Many theologians, including one as eminent as Hans Urs von Balthasar, incline to an unqualified yes. Others, such as Joseph Ratzinger, cast doubt .....

The pope has stated that "Jesus came to tell us that he wants us all in heaven and that hell, of which so little is said in our time, exists and is eternal for those who close their hearts to his love". I find that view repellent on so many levels. The pope and the SSPX can keep their version of God, but I'll believe in the God who loves everyone into heaven.


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