How could a Catholic priest end up in Hell?
Haven't all priests been promised eternal life? In fact, all of us have been offered and promised eternal life, without having to 'earn' it. However, no soul stained by mortal sin at death can enter paradise. "On one occasion when I was in Hell, I saw a great many priests, religious and nuns, cursing their vows, their order, their Superiors and everything that could have given them the light and the grace they had lost...
"I saw, too, some prelates. One accused himself of having used the goods belonging to the Church illicitly..." (September 28, 1922).
Sister Josefa Menendez saw priests and bishops in Hell
Sister Josefa Menendez The Way of Divine Love
The Path to Hell is Paved with the Skulls of Bishops: 8 Quotes and Sources
I hear Saint Chrysostom exclaiming with tears in his eyes, "I do not believe that many priests are saved; I believe the contrary, that the number of those who are damned is greater."
Sermon by St. Leonard of Port Maurice
How could a priest be lost? He says Mass daily, and receives the Blessed Sacrament. He surely must be on a path to great holiness.
Here are some possible problems.
1 He does not celebrate Mass every day. Each Mass provides the means to save souls, so missing a Mass could mean the loss of a soul. And this is unlikely to please God, who will be unconcerned if the priest has a good reason, but perhaps not so approving if the day off is for attending a horse race. After all, 30 minutes is not such a burden.
2 Perhaps some abuses have crept into his Mass. He has a roster of extraordinary ministers, without a valid reason. He allows changes to the words of the Mass. At the sign of peace he wanders around shaking hands with many others. He does not perform the ablutions after Communion. He turns a blind eye to the chatting which goes on after the consecration.
3 Children are taught only to receive Communion in the hand, that is, by the extraordinary method. And never by the ordinary method, on the tongue. First confession is delayed until after Confirmation and First Communion, and only the Second Rite is taught.
4 People coming to Mass only at Easter and Christmas are not warned of the danger to their souls of receiving the Blessed Sacrament without first confessing.
5 No one ever hears from the pulpit or anywhere else about sin and Hell. No mention of the great evils which are now openly promoted in our society, abortion, contraception, euthanasia, sodomy.
6 The task of defending the faith and the Church, such as taking part in vigils at abortion centres, written defence of Church teaching, he leaves to the laity.
7 There is no encouragement of confession, which is held for a few minutes one day a week, and sometimes not at all.
8 No encouragement of altar boys, but altar girls are everywhere. So no vocations.
9 Chatting in the church is not discouraged.
10 Complaints about misbehaviour in the church are shrugged off. Emails and letters ignored.
11 No mention of the poor dress code for Mass. T-shirts, shorts, pedal-pushers, thongs are the norm, even among those serving at the altar.
12 There is a complete lack of interest in what is being taught or not taught in the Catholic schools in the parish.
13 The lifestyles of the teachers in the Catholic schools are not an issue. Nor is the curriculum.
14 The hymns he approves sound a lot like advertising jingles, all about how we are all saved, and with only an occasional mention of God.
This list is not complete. The question is, are these behaviours serious enough for a priest to lose his soul? If so, how many of our priests are in grave danger?
Those parishioners who use contraceptives, for example, and lose their souls as a result, could perhaps complain that they were not taught about the evils of contraception. God is infinitely just, so it is reasonable to assume that any mitigation stemming from this ignorance could well be laid at and added to the conscience of the parish priest at his own judgement.
Since priests willingly take on these burdens at ordination, they have accepted responsibility for leading the people, administering the sacraments, and teaching the faith. If they fail in these duties, there is no doubt that Christ will demand an accounting.