…and a novel argument against the Balthasarian thesis (BT) that it is consonant with the Catholic faith that, in a word, “Hell is empty.” Unam Sanctam has recently provided extensive evidence–biblical/theological, pietistical, magisterial, and exegetical–that such a hope is, at best, only verbally consonant with the BT. (By “verbally consonant” I mean that, given Catholic assumptions, the words themselves are not incoherent.) However, the point of contention is that we have a “reasonable” (and robust) hope that hell turn out to be empty.
In May 2003 Cdl. Dulles wrote a characteristically superb treatment of the debate. Even so, I myself am not clear if Balthasar intended to limit his thesis to human souls (BTh), or to any beings whatsoever (BT*). I have seen evidence for both claims. Simply to be sporting, therefore, I will assume that he meant (BT*) that we can hope that even Satan and the fallen angels will not end up in hell.
Enter the insight I had the week before last: No theologumenon accords with the Catholic faith if it does not accord with the Mass. The Mass is the immune system of the Faith. It is the everlasting bulwark against error, sin, and death. As Cdl. Ottaviani said of the Tridentine canons, “[They] provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Mystery.” So what does the liturgical voice of the Church say about Hell?
Recall that Leo XIII, after receiving a mystical vision, ordered that the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel be recited at the end of all low Masses.
“Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into Hell, Satan and all the other evil spirits, who prowl throughout the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.”
For nearly a century, the Church has prayed for the population of hell to include the devils, if no one else. My point is simple: it is absurd to claim that the popes would unite to the liturgy, and order the faithful to pray, something–namely, the damnation of Satan and the demons–which is not consonant with the Faith. Conversely, were BT* consonant with Catholicism, the Church would not have prayed for hell to be populated by “Satan and all the other evil spirits.”
Rather than trying to write a long, subtle argument about this, I will leave it there and welcome your responses.