Hell and Mercy
Father Z’s post says something actually rather normal for an orthodox Catholic, but which must sound rather strange – or worse, offensive – to the more liberal, or simply less instructed, elements.
It is remarkable that the ones who are so ready to express some kind of wish hell may be empty – in his last movie, Nanni Moretti puts the words in the mouth of a Cardinal, and I can easily imagine he heard such heretic bollocks from a true one – are the one least likely to wish salvation for those they don’t like.
I do not consider myself a man endowed with particular goodness, but I can at least frankly say that I do not wish to see in hell anyone in particular; not even Luther, or Stalin, or Ken Livingstone; though I of course wish that God’s will be done and so can’t say I am in any opposition to anyone at all being in hell. Therefore, if Himmler is in hell I am perfectly fine with it, and if he isn’t I am perfectly fine with it, too; but wishing that he be to hell? No! Of course, for those who die publicly unrepentant – but who knows what happened in their private spiritual life, to which no access is given to us – one can say it is extremely probable that – bar an always welcome repentance – they are now in hell. But their repentance would be exactly that: welcome.
In this case, Hoess not only repented privately – and it is documented he called a priest, and confessed his sins – but accompanied this with a public repentance and confession of guilt. Therefore, whilst we can of course never say whether one is saved, the assumption that the man was saved is entirely reasonable and consistent with Catholic orthodoxy; and I wish him he obtained salvation, from all my heart.
But no, the liberal crowd wants Hell outlawed; but if Hell must be, they want to tell us who is there. Strangely, though, those who die in public defiance of God can be rather safely presumed to have escaped hell; possibly because they were nice to kitties.
I also warn my readers from the mistake of thinking the only way for the worst Nazi war criminals to avoid hell is God taking everyone out of it (a heresy, I think). Hell is certainly there, but no one can say who is certainly there. Heinrich Himmler might be saved, and yours truly go to hell ( a sobering though this, I assure you; but better to have sobering thoughts, than dangerous illusions of “what a fine chap I am”).
These personalities are, in fact, part of the challenge and paradox of Christianity. It may seem absurd that one can supervise the killing of countless innocent people and be, one day, called to enjoy God’s presence, and another may spend his life fighting for, say, the welfare of foxes and the health of daffodils and end up in hell. But the simple fact is, we are told the rules behind this, and on a second reflection the rules make perfect sense even from the rationale point of view.
The bottom line is whenever it seems to me God may have done things in the wrong way, it is senseless to think I am the one who is right and it is just as stupid to think I can bend the rules so they satisfy me, and invent some strange machinations to square the circle. I am always reminded of the Medjugorje lady who went around tweeting one can decide to repent after death…
For myself, though, whenever I pray the Fatima prayer I’ll try to apply it to everyone: Luther, Stalin, even Ken Livingstone.