CDF Prefect Ladaria on Universalism

In his book “Jesus Christ, Salvation of All”, Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria presents his private reflections on salvation, especially on the role of Christ in the salvation of everyone. Ladaria was recently appointed by Pope Francis as the prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the CDF), replacing Cardinal Gerhard Muller. His position on salvation theology might have an influence on future teachings of Pope Francis or of the CDF itself on the topic. However, the book in question was not issued as an act of the Magisterium, but as Ladaria’s personal opinion.

Does the title imply that all human persons are necessarily saved? No, it does not. Jesus is the salvation of all in as much as He offers salvation to all human persons, a concrete and full possibility of salvation.

The heresy of universalism holds that all human persons will be saved, that is to say, all human persons will have Heaven as their final and eternal destination. Historically, universalism was rejected by the Magisterium in the form of apocatastasis or restorationism. Ladaria clearly rejects the heresy of apokatastasis, which asserts that all human persons (or all human and all angels) will eventually receive eternal life in Heaven.

“The possibility of damnation, above all for one’s self, is always before us. Apokatastasis is not compatible with the Christian message of salvation, simply because it distorts the message, stripping it of all meaning and significance. It makes automatic what should be the free response of love to the love of God, which offers to us, in Christ and in his Spirit, participation in the divine life.” [p. 131]

But what does Ladaria think of the position proposed by Hans Urs Von Balthasar, that we may dare to hope that all human persons may receive eternal salvation in Heaven? My reading is that he does not adopt the position, but he is sympathetic to it. And that troubles me.

Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture very clearly teach, in many different ways, that some human souls are sent to Hell, to suffer forever. This teaching, while not explicitly stated in terms that are convincing to the Balthasar and his adherents, is necessarily implies, many times over, by Tradition, Scripture, and various definitive teachings of the Magisterium. Therefore, if the Magisterium, in the near or distant future, issues a new teaching document on salvation, it would be very important to assert this truth of the Gospel, that some human persons are in Hell and more human persons will join them. Salvation is offered to all, but certainly not received by all.

See my post: May We Reasonably Hope that All are Saved?

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.

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3 Responses to CDF Prefect Ladaria on Universalism

  1. Big George Foreman says:

    And yet, Balthasar’s opinion is not heretic, as I know.

    We know that the angels that rebelled agaisnt God are in hell, that’s for sure. And we know that if there are humans in hell, they are condemned forever.

    But the we don’t know for sure that hell is full of condemned humans. God can save everyone without violating free will with efficacious Grace (according to the Thomistic teaching), so it is possible that nobody dies in mortal sin.

    I personally believe that there are humans in hell because I believe in private revelations such as Saint Faustina, and i don’t think that Jesus lied to her, but Catholics are not obliged to believe that someone is condemned to hell

  2. Francisco says:

    {8:11} For I say to you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and they shall sit at table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.
    {8:12} But the sons of the kingdom shall be cast into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

    [Among other passages such as (Matthew 13:41-42) (13:49-50) (22:13) (24:51)].

    As mentioned above, we know that fallen angels are condemned in Hell, but when Jesus talks about “weeping and gnashing of teeth” our Lord is specifically referring to the lamentations of the damned humans in Hell in those verses. Angels are pure spirit, they do not literally “weep” or have “teeth” through their existence. Jesus is referring in these passages to the damned humans in a figure of speech (or way of expressing) “weeping and gnashing of teeth” = human souls in the first Hell; and human with corrupt bodies in the Pool of Fire (second death) (Revelation 20:12-15).

    {7:13} Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leads to perdition, and [my comment: heed the following words…] many there are who enter through it.

    {12:2} And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken: some to everlasting life, and others to a reproach that they will always see.

    {12:7} …. And when the dispersion of the hand of the holy people is completed, all these things will be completed.

    It’s absolutely certain.

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