How can you reconcile hell with God’s love, justice, and mercy?

The Catholic Answers

If I could not, that would but prove something wrong with my own ideas on the subject. For it is certain that God is loving, just, and merciful; and He has revealed that there is a hell. So the ideas cannot be repugnant. However God’s love, justice, and mercy demand that there be a hell. His love demands a hell, for the more He loves goodness, the more He must hate sin. To the man who says that God loves too much to send a man to hell, I simply reply that He sends no man there; men go there. And God has loved too much not to let them go there if they scorn, reject, and throw God’s love back in His face. Again, His justice demands that if a man dies rejecting an infinite goodness he should endure a penalty of a never-ending nature. If there were no eternal punishment, a man could cry to God, “You say ‘Thou shalt not.’ I say ‘I shall.’ Do your worst. You cannot punish me forever. What care I for your commandments or for yourself! You must either make me happy in the end, or annihilate me, when I shall have escaped your power.” It is impossible for the drama of iniquity to end like that. That would not be justice. And as for God’s mercy, already it is a mercy that man has the thought of hell as an emergency brake to stop his headlong rush into vice. The truth that there is a hell has mercifully saved many a soul from a life of blasphemy and sin, and still more often from death in a state of sin. And remember that God’s mercy is offered to every man over and over again during life. Mercy is asked for, not forced upon people. Some men who are loudest in their protests against God’s injustice would be the first to complain if God forced anything upon them, even His mercy. But men cannot have God’s mercy and reject it at one and the same time.

Radio Replies Volume 1 by Rev. Dr. Leslie Rumble MSC and Rev. Charles Mortimer Carty

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