I was reading a Catholic Magazine a few years ago (it might have been Catholic Answers) and I remember reading an article on the last judgement that seemed to suggest that at the end of time there would be a chance for those who weren't certainly in damned to have a final opportunity to reconcile their sins. Possibly I misunderstood, so my question is:

According to the Catholic Church (or writings of a revered saint), does this idea actually have any real ground in catholic teaching?

Note: I could only sorta buy this idea because I could see the Resurrection being a final opportunity where all of humanity is united by being alive at the same time... and have the chance to repent of sins against God an each other. After this, all who are guilty of final and complete impenitence would be damned.


2 Answers 2


Per current teaching in the Catechism, each person earns a particular judgment:

CCC 1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification or immediately, or immediate and everlasting damnation.

As posted here, the non doctrinal term "second judgment" looks like it addresses those who have not yet received particular judgment in the last days.

(Catholic Answers) At the end of time, when Jesus returns, there will come the general judgment to which the Bible refers, for example, in Matthew 25:31-32: "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats." In this general judgment all our sins will be publicly revealed (Luke 12:2–5).

For those who have been purified, they are in sufficient state of grace to be included in those who are "with God" rather than those who are not.

III. The Final Purification, or Purgatory

1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire

Note: As I read the text, the Council of Trent revised a previously held dogma from Benedict XII (ca. 1336, Benedictus Deus) on the impact of dying with the stain of mortal sin on one's soul.

With the above considered, it is pretty difficult to get into hell in that it requires a complete unwillingness to "turn towards God" at all. (Repentance has a meaning from the original term in Hebrew that we could read as "turn toward" or "turn again" with a positive connotation).

1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end.

This indicates that not only is mortal sin a requirement to be consigned to Hell, but also the stubborn refusal to repent/atone for said mortal sin has to be maintained. That state looks to be a criterion used during particular judgment.


I would offer two points for this:

First, I think the Catholic Church tends to not fill in all details about what the end times will be like. There are certain things it does acknowledge (eg, that there will be a Last Judgement; that people will be bodily resurrected), but I don't think there is a declaration binding on all Catholics on this question. The Catholic take on the end-times is centered around the virtue of hope. One quote that captures this is attributed to St. Joan of Arc: "If I am not in a state of grace (i.e., saved), may God make me that way; If I am, may God keep me that way." There is also the Fatima Prayer: Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy Mercy. These two quotes show that there are certain concepts Catholics think are important when it comes to the end-times (eg: having been forgived sins, God's mercy), but also an acknowledgement that there is much we don't know about the process.

Second, the Catholic Church does have the notion of purgatory, which you may be referring to. Purgatory however is not a second-chance for those who aren't necessarily damned, it is the process by which those who will not be damned, but not yet pure of temporal affects of sins already forgiven, are made ready for Heaven. The above link has a pretty good summary of the Catholic arguments for why Catholics believe in purgatory.

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