This question is from a Catholic perspective. Is there any writings or some teaching whether a person who highly contribute to someone else's salvation could in fact end up in hell if abandon faith at the end of life or stay in sin?

For example: If a person in early life lives faithfully, offers many indulgences for souls in purgatory to the point of getting them out of there or are a cause of many conversions. But at the end of life end up in mortal sin and end up unrepented or don't really think repentance is necessary for whatever reason. What comes to my mind are priests, religious who left their vocation and ended up married, especially if they even ended up marrying a divorced person and living in adultery or illicit marriage and so on. They might feel sorry but stuck in their situation believing this was God's will...but objectively living in sin...

  • Are there people in the grave who contributed to other people’s salvation? Yes. By “in hell” are you referring to the concept of eternal damnation taught by many religions? Is it not a fact that Jesus has to return to earth and judgment day has to occur before any are cast into the eternal torment? Do you believe Jesus has returned and judgement day has already happened?
    – User 14
    Feb 18, 2021 at 15:26
  • This tangentially related answer is one of my favorites.
    – User 14
    Feb 18, 2021 at 15:35
  • 1
    I'm looking for a Catholic view and the view or fact, as you say, is that there are souls already in the eternal torment. The judgement day will only provide a glorified body to those who are already condemned which will increase their suffering, sadly...The other difference is that the judgement day will reveal the sins of all.
    – Grasper
    Feb 18, 2021 at 15:43
  • I'm relatively certain that the Catholic Church doesn't say that there are any specific souls in hell, so are you you're asking seems to be if these two things Jesus said: "greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends" and "it would be better for him to have a millstone tied around his neck and cast into the sea than to leave these little ones into sin" had a fight, which one would win?
    – Peter Turner
    Feb 18, 2021 at 20:28
  • The main problem I see with this question is that neither the pope or the Church have jurisdiction over hell. Thus they can not say for sure if a named soul is condemned to eternal damnation.
    – Ken Graham
    Feb 18, 2021 at 21:13

3 Answers 3


Are there souls in hell who contributed to other soul's salvation?

The short answer is probably, but seeing to the fact that the Church does not know who is in hell, it remains an impossible question to answer with absolute certainty.

The Catholic Church can declare a person a saint, thus in heaven, but has never declared another damned!

The Popes as successors of St. Peter hold the keys to bind and loosen things on earth as well as in heaven (Matthew 16:19 and 18:18). The Popes have not even pronounced on the question as to the demise of the apostle Judas Iscariot and we all know the grave words that Jesus spoke about him shortly before the Passion: "Better for this man that he had never been born" (Mark 14:21).

Michelangelo (1475-1564) in his Last Judgment placed the Papal Master of Ceremonies, Baigio da Cesene (1463-1544) in hell. When he complained about his image being in hell, it is widely believed that Pope Paul III (1534-1549) responded: "That his jurisdiction did not extend to hell and the portrait would remain" as it is! - Why can the Catholic Church declare one person a saint but has never declared another damned?

Even St. Paul explicitly admits that this is a real possibility in life:

But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. - 1 Corinthians 9:27

Impossible it is to answer I say. But perhaps not so sure, at least not until the general judgement day!

Dietrich Richard Alfred von Hildebrand (12 October 1889 – 26 January 1977) was a German Roman Catholic philosopher and religious writer.

He was converted to the Catholic Church by Max Scheler, through whose influence (and through his depiction of St. Francis of Assisi) in 1914. Max Scheler died excommunicated by the Catholic Church for his divorce and remarriage with Märit Furtwängler in 1912. Is he in hell or heaven, no one knows, but he did influence Dietrich von Hildebrand‘s conversion to Catholicism. Max Scheler was actually given a Catholic burial by a priest who unaware of his state of excommunication.

Pope St. Gregory the Great writes about a curious story in his Dialogue, of how a Jews was converted by an apparition of Demons appeared to a Jew on a voyage and the Chief Demon said to the group: "Alas, alas, here is an empty vessel, but yet it is signed.” The Jew fearful of his life had blessed himself, making the sign of the Cross and afterwards went and got baptized.

But as I am thus busied in telling the acts of holy men, there cometh to my mind what God of his great mercy did for Andrew, Bishop of the city of Funda : which notable story I wish all so to read, that they which have dedicated themselves to continency, pre- sume not in any wise to dwell amongst women : lest in time of temptation their soul perish the sooner, by having that at hand which is unlawfully desired.

Neither is the story which I report either doubtful or uncertain: for so many witnesses to justify the truth thereof may be produced, as there be almost inhabitants in that city. When, therefore, this venerable man Andrew lived virtuously, and with diligent care, answer- able to his priestly function, led a continent and chaste life: he kept I n in his house a certain Nun, which also had remained with him before he was preferred to that dignity; for assuring himself of his own continency, and nothing doubting of hers, content he was to let her remain still in his house : which thing the devil took as an occasion to assault him with temptation : and so he began to present before the eyes of his mind the form of that woman, that by such allurements he might have his heart wholly possessed with ungodly thoughts. In the meantime it so fell out, that a Jew was travelling from Campania to Rome, who drawing nigh to the city of Funda, was so overtaken with night, that he knew not where to lodge, and therefore, not finding any better commodity, he retired himself into a temple of the god Apollo, which was not far off, meaning there to repose himself : but much afraid he was, to lie in so wicked and sacrilegious a place : for which cause, though he believed not what we teach of the cross, yet he thought good to arm himself with that sign. About midnight, as he lay waking for very fear of that forlorn and desert temple, and looked suddenly about him, he espied a troop of wicked spirits walking before another or greater authority: who coming in took up his place, and sat down in the body of the temple : where he began diligently to inquire of those his servants, how they had bestowed their time, and what villany they had done in the world. And when each one told what he had done against God's servants, out stepped a companion, and made solemn relation, with a notable temptation of carnality he had put into the mind of Bishop Andrew, concerning that Nun which he kept in his palace : where unto whiles the master devil gave attentive ear, considering with himself what a notable gain it would be, to undo the soul of so holy a man the former devil went on with his tale, and said that the very evening before he assaulted him so mightily, that he drew him so far forth, that he did merrily strike the said Nun upon the back. The wicked serpent and old enemy of mankind hearing this joyful news, exhorted his agent with very fair words, diligently to labour about the effecting of that thing which he had already so well begun, that for so notable a piece of service, as the contriving the spiritual ruin of that virtuous Prelate, he might have a singular reward above all his fellows. The Jew who all this while lay waking, and heard all that which they said, was wonderfully afraid : at length the master devil sent some of his followers to see who he was, and how he durst presume to lodge in their temple. When they were come, and had narrowly viewed him, they found that he was marked with the mystical sign of the cross : whereat they marvelled and said : "Alas, alas, here is an empty vessel, but yet it is signed": which news the rest of those hell-hounds hearing, suddenly vanished away. The Jew, who had seen all that which then passed among them, presently rose up, and in aU haste sped himself to the Bishop, whom he found in the church: and taking him side he demanded with what temptation he was troubled : but shame so prevailed, that by no means he would confess the truth. Then the Jew replied and told him, that he had cast his eyes wickedly upon such a one of God's servants ; but the Bishop would not acknowledge that there was any suchthing. "Why do you deny it,” quoth the Jew, "for is it not so true that yesternight you were brought so far by sinful temptation, that you did strike her on the back.'"' When the Bishop, by these particulars, perceived that the matter was broken forth, he humbly confessed what be fore he obstinately denied. Then the Jew, moved with compassion to his soul, and tendering his credit, told him by what means he came to the knowledge thereof, and what he heard of him in that assembly of wicked spirits. The Bishop, hearing this, fell prostrate upon the earth, and betook himself to his prayers : and straight after he discharged out of his house, not only that Nun, but all other women that attended upon her. And not long after, he converted the temple of Apollo into an oratory of the blessed Apostle, St. Andrew : and never after was he troubled with that carnal temptation : and the Jew, by whose means he was so mercifully preserved, he brought to everlasting salvation : for he baptized him, and made him a member of Holy Church. And thus,by God's providence, the Jew having care of the spiritual health of another, attained also himself the singular benefit of the same : and almighty God by the same means brought one to embrace piety and virtue, by which he preserved another in an holy and godly life. - Chapter Seven: Of Andrew Bishop of Funda (Page 113).

I imagine if the Demons can provoke a conversion which they obviously would not want, then a Soul in hell could have contributed to another’s salvation.

Others sources of interest may be perused at one’s own leisure:


St. Paul explicitly mentions this possibility in 1 Corinthians 9:27: I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps when I have preached to others I myself should be castaway.

Addendum: A comment from Grasper suggested expanding my answer, but I'm not sure there's much more to say. St. Paul can be obscure (as St. Peter says), but this particular point looks pretty clear to me. St. Paul has certainly helped save a lot of people by his preaching, but he does not regard that as a guarantee of his own salvation. Specifically, he finds the possibility of being cast away sufficiently real to warrant taking action, indeed rather unpleasant action (chastising his body), to avoid it.

  • Almost there, can you please extend your answer little more and provide more explanation?
    – Grasper
    Feb 18, 2021 at 20:01

I'm going address your specific question from a non-Catholic perspective but there are Catholics that would fit in the verses I am about to present as well as others in any category you mention.

Philippians1:18, "What then? Only that in every way, whether in "PRETENSE" or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice."

Now, that word "pretense" means, "one not supported by fact." Or "rather than real intention or purpose." In other words, even if ones motives are not honorable Paul does not care. He only cares that Christ is proclaimed;"

One almost can say that Paul is sort of thinking about what he said, and then says, "I'm going to say it, "and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice."

Also, I purposefully quoted vs18 first and the context of what Paul is talking about starts at vs15. "Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will."

Verses 16-17, (I'm paraphrasing) "the latter do it out of love." Vs17, "the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives."

To summarize, Paul responded, "What does it matter?" False ministerial motives cannot cancel the truth of the gospel as the power of God unto salvation whether in pretense or in truth.

  • Are these verses from Catholic approved biblical English translations? Even though you are answering from a biblical perspective, you should answer using appropriate translation to represent a Catholic viewpoint. After all you state that ”there are Catholics that would fit in the verses I am about to present as well as others in any category you mention.” You can always meet us half way.
    – Ken Graham
    Feb 24, 2021 at 21:49

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