“Ask a Priest: Can Someone Be Tossed Out of Heaven at the Last Judgment?”

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Q: The Nicene Creed says, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” Would that mean someone who’s in heaven can be judged again? Could someone in heaven go to hell after that final judgment? If so, how and why? Also, would people in hell be part of this final judgment? And if yes, would it be possible that they could go to heaven? Also, since in this final judgment there is no purgatory, what will happen to the people in purgatory when Jesus comes back to judge them but they are not clean yet? And what would happen to people on earth who otherwise would have gone to purgatory? – T.K.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: The final, or last, judgment doesn’t function the same way as the particular judgment does.

Let’s say this at the start: Anyone in hell doesn’t get a second chance at the last judgment, and anyone in heaven has no fear of losing heaven.

The final judgment is a kind of last act of history, when all the sins and secret motives of everyone are revealed. This includes souls in hell.

The Catechism in No. 1039 says, “The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life.”

A separate issue is: What about the souls still in purgatory and those still on earth when the final judgment comes?

The Church has no definitive as to what happens in these cases.

Perhaps at the time of the final judgment all the faithful on earth might have already undergone such trials so as to not need any more purification for their sins. God might also choose an alternate means of purifying the souls of the faithful prior to the final judgment.

Perhaps, too, all the souls in purgatory will have been purified by then.

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