Friday, August 24, 2007

Amerio on Hell

Romano Amerio, in Iota Unum, has some interesting things to say about Hell and post Vatican II Catholic thought on the subject. This is the end of the book; the Last Things. some interesting thoughts:

Chapter XLI
313. The triumph of justice. Hell.

Jacques Maritain’s denial of hell in his posthumous work Approches sans entraves[10] is more worthy of consideration; he maintains that Satan will finally be pardoned and consigned, by the prayer of Christ, to the natural happiness of Limbo, together with infants who died without baptism.[11]

Kark Rahner maintains that the denial of the eternity of punishment and the assertion of universal salvation are a new development due to Vatican II, and constitute a milestone for the faith of the Church.

These are the fantasies entertained by Victor Hugo in his La Fin de Satan. Following in his footsteps Maritain says: “One day all the inhabitants of Hell…all the reprobate will be pardoned.” (Op. cit., p. 30. )

314. Defense of Hell.

Abbadie’s acute observation is relevant here. Self-love finds nothing disproportionate about eternal happiness, but eternal punishment disgusts it. Why so, he asks, if not because self-love likes to deceive itself?

If one may risk a metaphor, the condition of the lost should be thought of as being not so much an agony, as an infinitely long day of dimness and somber boredom.[18]

316. Hell as pure justice

If all things will return happily to God, by an apocatastasis of an Originest sort, then after the passage of a sufficiently long time, virginity and prostitution will come to the same thing and the past action of all human beings will be of absolutely no importance, given that what we care about is not what we were, but what we ultimately will be for the rest of eternity. The permanent reality of heaven and hell means that even though the whole temporal order, and the sequence of events that occurs within it, will be gone at the end of the world, the values of right and wrong cannot be done away with. True, the good exists unchangeably in God; but if moral goodness were not also woven into or stamped upon the order of the world as well, then the whole content of time would not alter the final state of things, and might therefore just as well not have existed. Justice, no less than mercy, is a good that must be conserved forever. The Jew from Auschwitz remains in eternity the Jew who was in Auschwitz, and the executioner Eichmann remains in eternity the executioner Eichmann. Hell is the difference between the one and the other; it is the preservation of the moral distinction between them, and thus of their moral natures. The only thing that can be destroyed is guilt, which is wiped out by forgiveness and which comes about through God’s mercy and mans repentance, but not without that repentance.

[10] J. Maritain, Approches sans entraves, “Unshackled Approachs,” Paris 1974.
[11] Whatever degree of happiness unbaptized infants who die in original sin enjoy, they are still subject to the penalty attaching to original sin, namely absence of the Beatific Vision, and they are thus in hell, but with merely negative penalty. See […] the teaching of Innocent III in 1201 and Pius VI in 1794.
[18] St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that hell is compatible with verying degress of real though imperfect natural happiness: Cf. De malo, 5, 3, and the commentary on the Sentences, II, d.33,q.2,a.2

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