I was reading the following passages, and they seem to indicate that we should rejoice when God brings about His judgement:

"Righteous art thou, O YHVH, and upright are thy judgments." Psalm 119:137


"But, O YHVH of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause." Jerimiah 11:20


"Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of YHVH, because he cometh to judge the earth.

O give thanks unto YHVH; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever." 1 Chronicles 16:33-34

One more:

"But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am YHVH which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith YHVH." Jeremiah 9:24

I'm seeing several, maybe even hundreds, of verses that confirm God's judgment is righteous and good. Unless I'm missing something, God's judgement seems to be something Christians should be excited and happy about.

So according to Catholicism, should Christians (of any sort) rejoice when an unbeliever (specifically those that have outright denied Christianity: ex. Atheist, Muslims, Hindu) dies and God subjects their flesh to be burned for eternity?

  • @lonesomeday Please don't use the comment section to discuss topical matters. Comments are a feedback mechanism for improving/fixing posts. Answering questions or throwing in a word a spiritual advice is not what the tool is for.
    – Caleb
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 9:00
  • @Caleb I thought it was feedback on the post. Clearly I was wrong... Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 9:05
  • @lonesomeday Pretty much any time a comment begins with «The answer is [...]» it's not strictly feedback on a post. The author of a post should be able to turn back around and take feedback into account and fix their post through an edit to make comments obsolete. People aren't supposed to edit answers into their questions, ergo that content doesn't belong in comments either.
    – Caleb
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 11:28

1 Answer 1


According the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery." Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

So, I'd say first of all that your question made be based on a false premise. But taking just the words of your question at face value, I'd refer you to 1 Timothy 2-4; Ezekiel 18:23, 32 and probably many other verses.

I'd also suggest that the proper response is no different from the proper response in an earthly context. When some malefactor receives proper justice at the hands of the courts, should we rejoice in their misfortune? Of course not. But we can be glad that their unlawful and predatory behavior will no longer continue, and hope that others who may be tempted toward such behavior may be dissuaded by the example of their punishment.

As to hell being a place of physical torture, again I'd have to say that your question is based on a false premise. The church teaches that,

"The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs."

So from the perspective of the saved, basking in the splendor and glory of the beatific vision, such separation is torture, and so those metaphors are appropriate.

For me, the most cogent depiction of hell can be found in CS Lewis' "The Great Divorce". It answers the question I think you're getting at: "How can a loving and good God create clay-footed creatures whom he then condemns to an eternity of torture while they beg and plead for forgiveness and mercy". (Hint: He doesn't) Although Lewis was not Catholic, I see nothing in what he relates there that is inconsistent with the church's teaching. I recommend it most highly, especially if this question poses difficulties for you. It's an easy, fun read, to boot.

  • Thank you @Tupelo. I think I like this answer, but I have a few questions just to make sure. Your quote deals with those that have died "ignorant of the Gospel of Christ". Does this mean the Church does not have an official opinion concerning those that explicitly deny the gospel or choose to follow other gods. Which earthly court do you refer to? Some courts put transgressors to death in horrific ways, and some chastise them for long periods of time.
    – Cannabijoy
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 19:58
  • However, I'm unaware of a court that tortures transgressors every second of their life, while also sustaining their life until they eventually die of old age. Of course this person does eventually die and their torture ceases, so this is literally "infinitely" less painful and prolonged, but I can't think of anything else to compare hell to. Does the church consider this a righteous and good form of justice?
    – Cannabijoy
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 19:59
  • (+)1 Thanks for clarifying. I'm not sure what you're suggesting is the actual doctrine of the Catholic church. The quote you provided also says "Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire." The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs" What are the "non-chief" punishments, and is there anything in the Catechism that confirms this "eternal fire" is a metaphor?
    – Cannabijoy
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 22:07
  • @anonymouswho You can be a believer and, by dying in a state of mortal sin suffer the punishments of hell as you cited. You can be an unbeliever, whose soul is burdened with mortal sin and fare likewise. But, you can also be an unbeliever (per the point made the answer) and not be burdened with the stain of mortal sin, and thus not be subject to that punishment you cited from the CCC. That soul's final disposition remains within the remit of Divine Grace. A Catholic can always pray for the souls of the departed, regardless of their state of grace/sin. Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 17:02
  • Thank you @KorvinStarmast. Is conciously denying the gospel and choosing to serve other gods (or outright denying the existence of a god and believing Jesus Christ is a fairy tale) considered a mortal sin? My question is about those that have heard the Christian gospel, and conciously oppose it's "truth". Should Christians rejoice at these humans inevitable future of having their flesh burned forever?
    – Cannabijoy
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 20:55

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