"...one cannot rationally and knowingly choose to live contrary to God’s will, since to do so is contrary to one’s own nature, which nature is to live in accord with God’s will. One avoids sin because to sin is to act against God and against oneself, not because, or not chiefly because, of the threat of future punishment. More precisely, punishment, understood as damnation, is the culmination of having lived against one’s highest good, namely, God. It is doubtful that one could really want life with God forever if one does not want life with God here and now..."
"It is sometimes said that Protestants, who subscribe to “justification by faith,” know they will be saved, while Catholics only hope they will be saved. That is a distinction without a difference. Faith is hope anticipated, and hope is faith disposed toward the future..."
"... our sense of justice requires that we believe some people are eternally punished. It seems the favorite candidate here is Adolf Hitler [but] rating “big” and “little” sinners is a very dubious business. I expect there are many petty tyrants in homes and offices who are every bit as disposed to evil as was Hitler, but who have a more restricted range of opportunity for acting on that disposition... Further, it is not our sense of justice but God’s perfect justice that is to be satisfied. And, be it noted, that perfect justice is satisfied by the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
" . . . the command and impulse to evangelize is premised not on the bad news that we do not know but on the good news (i.e., “gospel”) that we do know. To be sure, good news may be good in relation to the bad, but there is enough bad news that we know for sure that we do not need to pretend to know more bad news than we do in order to make the good news good."
"As both Redemptoris Missio and the year 2000 statement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, make clear, everyone who is saved is saved because of Christ, even if they have never heard the gospel. If they are in heaven, they will certainly know then that it is because of God’s reconciling work in Christ. As it is usually put, faith’s response to the gospel proclaimed and enacted in word and sacrament is the “ordinary means” of salvation. That is exactly right. At the same time, God is not limited to the ordinary. Why evangelize? Evangelization is most importantly driven by the means of salvation revealed, by Christ’s clear command, and by the sharing of fellowship so that “our joy may be complete” (1 John 1:4). We know what we are to do, and why. But the fullness of what God can and will do for the world that He loves is not limited to what we do."
"... the fact is that we all pray that all may be saved. Is it possible to pray for that without hoping for that? I think not. It follows that we pray, and therefore we hope, that all will be saved. Catholics by the millions pray the rosary every day, adding at the end of each decade, O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy."
"We pray and we hope, but we do not know that that will be the case. I have a terrible fear that it will not be the case. If all are not saved, if many or most are lost, I do not know-despite the many elegant explanations that have been proposed-how to square that with biblical passages and the theo-logic that suggest universal redemption. But God knows, and that is enough. We know that we are to proclaim the saving gospel, we know what we hope will be the case, but we know these things in the full recognition that the ultimate working out of God’s mercy and justice eludes our certain grasp."