This view was adopted as valid by current Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, Robert Barron. On YouTube comments section I made several arguments (over a few years), most of the time he seems to ignore or dismiss my arguments, or misunderstand what I am disagreeing with. He does seem to be eager to address people making absurd arguments against him.
I must say, Michael Voris, a person whose tactics, speech and so on I completely cannot stand, made a video in which he attempts to rebuke Bishop Barron, however, despite tossing around their various degrees, did an awful job of making their argument.
Recently, I came across a priest's article that pointed out this excellent reference found in the Council of Trent that states not everyone will benefit from the Passion of Christ:
But, though He died for all, yet do not all receive the benefit of His death, but those only unto whom the merit of His passion is communicated...--Council of Trent, Session VI, Chapter 3: Who are justified through ChristNow, had Trent wanted to leave universalism as possibility it could have omitted "yet do not all receive the benefit of His death." Which could imply that maybe everyone can receive the benefit of His death. Here is the back and forth I had in the comments section with the Bishop Barron (or whoever responds with his account):
Me: Dogmatically, a Catholic cannot believe universalism at all, even as just a "reasonable hope." The council of Trent on its Decree on Justification plainly states not everyone will benefit from His death: But, though He died for all, yet do not all receive the benefit of His death, but those only unto whom the merit of His passion is communicated.--Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter 3
Bishop Barron: Not so. That language is conditional.
Me: What is the conditional language if it reads "not all receive the benefit of His death"? Had the council said instead, "only unto those whom the merit of His passion is communicated receive the benefit of His death" might there be still a possibility for universalism being true ultimately because hypothetically all could have had the "merit of His passion...communicated", but the council explicitly added "not all receive the benefit of His death" which removes the possibility for all humans being saved on That Day.
Obviously, the language of the council here was not hypothetical. A friend of mine, suggested perhaps this section of the council is not dogmatic, but only the canons are, however, the preface to Session VI of Trent states: "Christ Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, taught, which the apostles transmitted, and which the Catholic Church, the Holy Ghost reminding her thereof, has always retained; most strictly forbidding that any henceforth presume to believe, preach, or teach, otherwise than as by this present decree is defined and declared. "
As I point out in my older article, Pope John Paul II (now St) actually rejected von Balthasar's idea, and even mentions von Balthasar by name
"The problem of hell has always disturbed great thinkers in the Church, beginning with Origen and continuing in our time with Sergey Bulgakov and Hans Urs von Balthasar. In point of fact, the ancient councils rejected the theory of the "final apocatastasis," according to which the world would be regenerated after destruction, and every creature would be saved; a theory which indirectly abolished hell. But the problem remains. Can God, who has loved man so much, permit the man who rejects Him to be condemned to eternal torment? And yet, the words of Christ are unequivocal. In Matthew's Gospel He speaks clearly of those who will go to eternal punishment (cf. Mt 25:46). Who will these be? The Church has never made any pronouncement in this regard. This is a mystery, truly inscrutable, which embraces the holiness of God and the conscience of man. The silence of the Church is, therefore, the only appropriate position for Christian faith. Even when Jesus says of Judas, the traitor, "It would be better for that man if he had never been born" (Mt 26:24), His words do not allude for certain to eternal damnation.).”—Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Chapter 28: Does Eternal Life Exist? c.AD 1994 (emphasis mine)However, Pope John Paul II in his spoken General Audience, July 28, 1999 made a statement that some interpret as him accepting von Balthasar's theory as being with in orthodoxy, in the original form he said:
“La dannazione rimane una reale possibilità, ma non ci è dato di conoscere, senza speciale rivelazione divina, se e quali esseri umani vi siano effettivamente coinvolti.”—Papa Giovanni Paolo II, Udienza Generale, 28 luglio 1999 (Original text)
“Eternal damnation remains a real possibility, but we are not granted, without special divine revelation, the knowledge of whether or which human beings are effectively involved in it.” --Pope John Paul II, General Audience, July 28, 1999 (Original text)
However, what is frequently omitted in this assertion is that this text was edited by the Vatican soon after it was published (though it stayed a while in English and Italian), in fact, any trace of it has been removed from the official Vatican.va text. Now, it reads
La dannazione rimane una reale possibilità, ma non ci è dato di conoscere, senza speciale rivelazione divina, quali esseri umani vi siano effettivamente coinvolti. Papa Giovanni Paolo II, Udienza Generale, 28 luglio 1999. Present edit made during John Paul II's papacy (notice the omission of the original "if"/"whether" that is "se e")
Damnation remains a real possibility, but it is not granted to us, without special divine revelation, to know which human beings are effectively involved in it..”—Pope John Paul II, General Audience, July 28, 1999 (revised, edited translation now used on Vatican.va)In other translations, the correction was a lot swifter, notice they only say "which" and not "whether/if"
Spanish:“La condenación sigue siendo una posibilidad real, pero no nos es dado conocer, sin especial revelación divina, cuáles [which plural] seres humanos [human beings] han quedado implicados efectivamente en ella.”
French:“La damnation demeure une possibilité réelle, mais il ne nous est pas donné de connaître, sans révélation divine particulière, quells [which plural] êtres humains [human beings] sont effectivement concernés.”
Portugese:“A perdição continua uma real possibilidade, mas não nos é dado conhecer, sem especial revelação divina, quais [which plural] os seres humanos [the human beings] que nela estão efectivamente envolvidos.”
German:”Die Verdammnis bleibt eine wirkliche Möglichkeit. Aber uns ist es nicht bestimmt, sie zu kennen, ohne besondere göttliche Offenbarung, welche menschlichen Wesen wirklich darin verwickelt sind.”
So it is evident that since the change to the text was done during St John Paul II's papacy, implies that he and the Vatican wanted to avoid any implication that the Pope might suggest universalism is possible.
Likewise, just before his ascent to the Papacy, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) stated, defending the language of "pro multis":
“This is why God’s all-embracing desire to save people does not involve the actual salvation of all men. He allows us the power to refuse.”— Joseph Alois Cardinal Ratzinger, “Gott ist uns nah. Eucharistie: Mitt des Lebens” (God is Near Us: The Eucharist, The Heart of Life), Chapter II: God’s Yes and His Love Are Maintained Even in Death, point 2, p. 37 (concerning pro multis in the Mass.) Published June 1, AD 2003
This is consistent with Trent's statement and Crossing the Threshold of Hope.
Another critic of von Balthasar that's the point of the possibility of an empty Hell was discussed by the council and the Council found no need to make it clear since it was already seen as being clearly taught in Scripture itself:
“In reference to the text from Vatican II it is to be noted that initially there was no reference to the "eternal fire." The reference was explicitly inserted at the request of many bishops. We know as well, from the official Relatio, that the text was not intended to speak of the salvation of all men. From the same source we learned that "one bishop wanted a sentence to be included in which it would be clear that there are damned defacto, lest damnation remain as a mere hypothesis." The request was refused by the Theological Commission responsible for drafting the document, with the comment that "In no. 48 there are cited the words of the Gospel in which the Lord Himself speaks about the damned in a form which is grammatically future." The significance of that remark is that when the Church speaks of damnation of humans she speaks, as Christ himself did, not in a form of grammar which is conditional (i.e., speaking about something which might happen), but in the grammatical future (i.e., about something which will happen). And it was with this understanding that the bishops of Vatican II voted upon and accepted Lumen Gentium.”—James T. O'Connor
In fact, the Catechism states:
"The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.""—Catechism §1036 on Hell (notice it quotes Luke 13:24 and interprets it as being Hell)
The Catechism, quoting Scripture states that the gate of destruction is entered "are many." If Christ said "many" enter by the wide gate of destruction, then how can we say potentially "no one" might ACTUALLY enter the wide gate.
On October 22, 2017, I personally met a member of the Roman Curia in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (granted it was not the head of it) on the issue of von Balthasar's theory which I mentioned by name, and he plainly stated the theory was ridiculous, and the idea that Hell is presently unpopulated is absurd. He said he could go on for hours on how wrong von Balthasar's theory was. He was shocked to know there are clergy, even a bishop that teach his hypothesis of "reasonable hope." My friend made a comment on a popular Catholic celebrity's Facebook referencing my inquiry to the member of the CDF, to which a person writing under the Facebook profile of Bishop Barron dismissed my discussion with the member of the CDF as "an appeal to authority." Here is a screen shot of the discussion with the names of peoples and places omitted.