My understanding of Catholic teaching has led me to the conclusion that the majority of human persons go to Heaven, and only a small percentage of persons end up in Hell. See my book: Forgiveness and Salvation for Everyone or my booklet Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and Limbo for a detailed explanation of my position.
At Medjugorje, the Blessed Virgin Mary said: “The majority of people go to Purgatory. Many go to Hell. A small number go directly to Heaven.” And we know from Church teaching that all the souls in Purgatory eventually go to Heaven. So this implies that the majority of human persons go to Heaven, though usually by way of Purgatory. Many persons go to Hell, in terms of sheer numbers. But the number who go to Hell are a minority as a percentage, since most go to Heaven.
The Range of Opinions
Among Catholic Christians, ideas about salvation vary greatly.
1. At one extreme, on the far left, is the claim that we may “reasonably hope” that “perhaps” all human persons are saved and eventually end up in Heaven. This view is held by Bishop Robert Barron of the diocese of LA, by Mark Shea, a popular Catholic blogger, and other persons. But it is not generally held by all liberals. It is a minority opinion even on the left.
However, as I have explained in previous posts, the idea that all human persons are saved — even when stated as a possible reasonable hope and not a certitude — is abject heresy. See my past posts: May we reasonably hope that all are saved? and Bishop Robert Barron on Hell.
Do you really believe that a just and merciful God would place brutal dictators, genocidal maniacs, serial rapists, child abusers, serial killers, mass murderers, torturers, and other persons guilty of very grave offenses, in the same eternal home as their victims? The claim that all human persons “perhaps” go to Heaven is not at all “reasonable”, and it is contrary to the infallible teachings of Scripture, Tradition, and several Ecumenical Councils.
2. At the other extreme, on the far right, is the claim only Catholics or only baptized Christians go to Heaven. The teaching of the Church on the baptism of desire, especially implicit baptism of desire, is denigrated, explained away, or outright denied. And the teaching on the baptism of blood is severely restricted, as if it applied only to Christian catechumenates. This error is the heresy of Feeneyism. And it is common among neo-Feeneyites to deny that Fr. Feeney was ever condemned as a heretic.
To the contrary, Pope Saint John Paul II taught:
“The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all.” [Redemptoris Missio 10]
The Second Vatican Council taught that all salvation comes through Christ, by virtue of the Paschal Mystery, but also:
“this applies not only to Christians but to all people of good will in whose hearts grace is secretly at work. Since Christ died for everyone, and since the ultimate calling of each of us comes from God and is therefore a universal one, we are obliged to hold that the Holy Spirit offers everyone the possibility of sharing in this Paschal Mystery in a manner known to God.”
Therefore, the contrary idea, that non-Christians cannot be saved or are only rarely saved, is heresy.
3. Another heretical view on salvation, found among some foolish Catholic bloggers and online commentators, is that ONLY baptized Christians are children of God by spiritual adoption. This view directly contradicts the infallible teaching of the Council of Trent, Decree on Justification, Chapter IV.
4. A common erroneous view on the far right is that very few persons go to Heaven, and that the vast majority of human persons end up in Hell. This view is held by Michael Voris as well as some other conservatives. But it is not held by all conservatives or traditionalists.
In this view, the claim is made that very few persons outside of Christianity, or even outside of Catholicism, are saved. So the possibility of an implicit baptism of desire or a baptism of blood is greatly reduced. And even within Catholicism, some persons opine that only a minority of persons are saved.
But when someone takes this very narrow view of salvation, the person proposing the view typically places himself among the very few who are saved. It is a rather self-serving opinion on salvation. Filled with pride, they think that only persons who are like themselves will go to Heaven.
To the contrary, the Church teaches the universal salvific will of God. The offer of salvation is universal. It is concretely possible for any human person to be saved, though we know from Divine Revelation that not all persons accept the offer. Even so, by the mercy and grace of God, very many persons are saved.
Can non-Christians or non-believers be saved? Yes, if they enter the state of grace by an implicit baptism of desire, such as by an act of true selfless love of neighbor, and if they either avoid all actual mortal sin, or if they repent with (at least implicit) perfect contrition. Many persons who know about Christianity, but who decline to become Christians, are in a state of invincible ignorance; they are not guilty to the extent of actual mortal sin for their refusal to accept Christianity, or even for their refusal to believe in God. So they can possibly be saved. However, the easiest path of salvation is to be a believing and practicing Roman Catholic.
See my posts: Michael Voris: grave errors on salvation theology and The Errors of Michael Voris: distorted doctrine on Hell.
5. A particularly onerous and arrogant position, truly Pharisaical in its view of salvation, is the idea that unbaptized prenatals, infants, and young children cannot possibly go to Heaven, by a baptism of blood (or a baptism of desire), and that they therefore go to limbo. Sometimes the claim is that this limbo is a third final destination (neither heaven, nor hell). Other times, it is said that they go to the limbo of Hell, as a place of “perfect natural happiness”.
The latter claim is heresy, since Tradition and Scripture and the Magisterium each definitively teach that Hell is a place of eternal punishment, and that all persons there have the chief punishment of Hell, which is the deprivation of all the joys of Heaven, especially the Beatific Vision of God. Now some proponents claim that the view is not heretical, but at least a sound opinion, since it was held by some Saints and Doctors in the past. But in truth, this opinion is no longer tenable due to subsequent teachings of the Magisterium. It is now an heretical claim.
The former claim, that they go to limbo as a third final destination, does not appear to be heretical, and yet it is also no longer tenable, due to recent magisterial teachings.
The sole position on this question that is consonant with all magisterial teachings on the subject of salvation is that all prenatals, infants, and young children, who die without the Sacrament of Baptism, are given a baptism of blood (or perhaps, in the case of some older children, of desire) prior to death, so that they die in the state of grace and will have eternal life in Heaven. Those persons only die in a state of “original sin alone” (per the Councils of Lyons II and Florence) who die unrepentant from the actual mortal sin of omission of never having found sanctifying grace in their lives, by any of the three forms of baptism, despite ample opportunity. Children do not have ample opportunity, so they are never guilty of that particular actual mortal sin.
The holy Pontiff has hinted that he holds a broad view of who may be saved, even going to far as to suggest that atheists can be in the state of grace. If, at any time, Pope Francis publishes an encyclical on salvation theology, you can expect the Pharisees of today to rail against him, accuse him of heresy, and depart from communion with the Vicar of Christ.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.
Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.
We must make sacerfices pray the rosary pray for sinners Make the first five saturdays and first nine fridays.
Another nice prayer Is St Bridget of Sweden12 Year Prayer and one year prayer.