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Synod expert calls for renewed emphasis on possibility of hell, need for repentance

Catholic World News - October 12, 2012

A US expert at the Synod of Bishops for the new evangelization has told the National Catholic Register that a renewed emphasis on the possibility of eternal damnation and the need for salvation will be “helpful” for the new evangelization.

“I feel like there is a doctrinal confusion that hasn’t been paid sufficient attention to, that really is holding back evangelization,” said Ralph Martin, a professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. “I would describe it like this: Many of our fellow Catholics look at the world this way — that broad and wide is the road that leads to heaven, and almost everyone is going that way, but narrow is the way that leads to hell, and hardly anybody is going that way.”

“Of course, this is hugely problematic, as it’s the exact opposite of what Jesus said,” he continued. “There’s actually some significant teaching in Vatican II that hasn’t been paid attention to, that would really clarify this amazing doctrinal confusion.”

“All our exhortations to be more enthusiastic about evangelization, more zealous, are going to fall on semi-deaf ears unless people really believe it will make a significant difference to people’s lives. Not just for this life, but for eternity.”

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  • Posted by: Bill in IL - Oct. 15, 2012 10:22 AM ET USA

    I think the phrase "possibility of hell" means that it is possible to go there. But the way it is written it sounds like it leaves open the question of whether hell really exists. Perhaps say, "the reality of hell and the possibility one can end up there"?

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Oct. 12, 2012 8:07 PM ET USA

    Great points indeed. Hell needs to be preached about at least sometimes. We don't need to fixate on it but we need to be aware of it. The horror of sin is much more understood in the light of the reality and eternity of hell. I know at my FSSP chapel it is preached on every once in a while.

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