I have a new article up at NewEvangelizers.com.
I recently was in a discussion with a dear friend regarding whether I believed all men could go to Heaven. My short answer to his inquiry was “Yes.” But I think this is something that requires a great deal of clarification.
One of the concerns here is the difference between what is said and what is heard. I remember once I had a student who asked if beasts go to Heaven. My answer was that Christ never told us. But what she heard was that her recently departed beloved pet was gone forever.
When I gave my friend the above short answer, he expressed great concern over the implication of that answer. As a teacher, imagine if I told my students that it was possible that a student could never study and still pass a test. It would be a true statement because I can that it is possible, however unlikely, that someone could guess their way into a passing grade. However, what a student might hear is “I don’t have to study to pass.”
The reason why I believe that it is possible that all men could go to Heaven is because God never told us who is in Hell. Pope St. John Paul the Great wrote in Crossing the Threshold of Hope:
[Christ] speaks clearly of those who will go to eternal punishment (cf. Mt 25:46). Who will these be? THe church has never made any pronouncement in this regard. This is a mystery truly inscrutable, which embraces the holiness of God and the conscience of man. The silence of the church is, therefore, the only appropriate position of the Christian faith. Even when Jesus says of Judas, the traitor, “It would be better for that man if he had never been born,” (Mt 26:24), His words do not allude for certain to eternal damnation.
Did the pope say that Judas was in Heaven? No. Did he say that it was likely that Judas was in Heaven? No.
He said that while Hell is real, we are ignorant of who is there. We know with certainty that there are certain people in Heaven: the saints. But we do not know with certainty who is in Hell. So with this idea in mind, it leaves open the possibility that all men could go to Heaven.
Does this mean that we know that Hell is empty? No. Is it likely Hell is empty? Nothing about the pope’s statement indicates this. John Paul was simply acknowledging that Christ withheld this bit of information from revelation.
What is the potential harm of saying all men could go to Heaven? There are two likely misinterpretations:
You can read the entire article here.