Should we pray for those who die in grave sin and could have been condemned?
What will happen to someone who suddenly dies without confession?
It is established that men die only once and then comes judgment (Heb 9:27). And in this particular judgment, everyone receives according to what he did during his mortal life (2 Cor 5, 10).
Christian doctrine has always said clearly that everyone will reap in eternity what in this temporal life he will have sown.
First of all, let us keep in mind a great truth: “God does not predestinate anyone to Hell” (Catechism 1037). The Will of God is that all men come to enjoy salvation, of the Beatific Vision.
For someone to really be condemned, it is necessary for him to have a voluntary separation from God, a permanent aversion to Him, a rebellion against his will or a confrontation against him and, in addition, to persist in this attitude until the last day (Mt 7, 23; Mt 25, 41). People like that, people who meet these conditions, I really do not think there are many.
In any case, he who dies in mortal sin, without at least repenting, goes to hell (Catechism 1033). And Catholic Christian theology affirms that a condemned soul can not be saved with prayers.
But one thing is the irreversibility of the eternal destiny called hell (Catechism 1035), carved in earthly temporality, and another very different is, of course, to give someone already for the condemned in hell.
It is not possible to think or affirm categorically that someone, upon dying suddenly, and according to us without a state of grace, has been condemned inexorably. No one should ever think this or the most abject of criminals.
Why is it not possible to think about it? We know what is the ordinary way to enter heaven directly or indirectly (through purgatory): Dying in a state of grace. However, there is a possibility of salvation for the person who, being in grave sin, dies without being reconciled with God through the sacrament of confession; although, of course, I have to go through purgatory anyway.
This exception is based on several elements:
1.- When the person, at the time of death, could not be attended by a priest. Suppose the case of a plane crash or a car accident, could God condemn these people for having died without the presence of a priest, if they had had it, perhaps they would have resorted to it? Certainly not.
In these circumstances the Church believes in the Mercy of the Lord for those people who with their last breath of life cry for forgiveness. If the person has a moment of lucidity before death, and in that moment he repents with a contrite heart for the totality of his sins, and asks God for forgiveness, he will be saved.