A public apostate recently stated, “This isn’t dogma, just my thought. I like to think of hell as being empty. I hope it is.” Many others online repeated the sentiment.
But they’re wrong. First of all, it’s infallible dogma that not just demons, but men and women are in hell. The Council of Trent states in chapter 3 in the Decree on Justification: “But, though [Christ] died for all, yet all do not receive the benefit of His death, but those only unto whom the merit of His passion is communicated.”
Let’s also look at why it’s not more hopeful to think of an empty-hell. First of all, St. Augustine said, “There are two things that kill the soul: Despair and false hope.”—Sermon 87.8. One of the reasons “hoping” in an empty-hell destroys true supernatural hope is because it’s against nearly every page of the Gospels. Our Lord warns not just that there is a hell, but that real people go there. Thus, univeralism (the notion everyone is saved) sows seeds of doubt into the very words of Our Divine Savior. Notice St. Augustine did not say, “False hope leads to an unfounded hope,” but rather “False hope kills the soul.” That is also called despair.
Secondly, think of real life examples: If a child-trafficker or child-raping-john ends up in the same eternal location (ie heaven) as their twelve year old “girl-property” who has been raped over 10,000 times, then there is really no justice in the universe. If there is no justice in the universe, then there is no just God. If everyone is saved, justice does not exist in the afterlife, meaning whatever “god” the liberal “Catholics” serve is not good at all. Such a capricious “being” promoted by Von Balthasarians is either wimpy or tyrannical. The notion of an eternal being who has less justice and goodness than an average person of common sense leads other average people to despair.
I wish hell were empty too, but I see every day we live charged with free-will. If we lived in a universe where you couldn’t choose not-love, then we would live in a universe where you couldn’t choose love. But thankfully, that is not the world God created. God made us to share His Trinitarian life forever, meaning angels and men must choose Him using our free-will. Free-will therefore necessitates a hell with demons and humans in it.
If everyone is saved regardless of their faith or lifestyle, then Jesus’ death was in vain.
Thirdly, if everyone is saved, there is no meaning to redemptive suffering in the everyday lives of the faithful. The liberals of the 70s made fun of the nuns of the 40s who said “Offer it up.” But if “offering it up” can save hell-bound souls with little sacrifices (as Our Lady of Fatima asserted so strongly) then there is indeed importance to redemptive suffering. Suffering united to Christ truly effects the salvation of souls. But if everyone is saved, there is no meaning to redemptive suffering on earth. And if there is no meaning to redemptive suffering, then there is no meaning to suffering at all. This is because Christianity is the only world religion that even claims to have an answer to human suffering, namely, suffering can be united to the crucifixion of the Son of God to save others from hell.
A woman recently emailed me about why God allowed the crucifixion. I wrote her: “Evil falls under God’s permissive will, but never His positive will. It’s very important we make that distinction, as certain fatalistic religions like Islam do not. In short, every blessing in your life is God’s positive will. Every evil that enters your life is God’s permissive will. But both fall under His sovereignty. The same was for Christ’s human life on earth. What the crucifixion does in all of world history is it makes it so God continues to respect human freedom (hence why sin continues after the crucifixion) but God can now bring good out of evil without overturning human freedom. That is the miracle of redemptive suffering, that God uses evil for good without ever having willed it in the first place.”
See my previous article quoting numerous saints on hell.