Pro-life groups expressed their condolences over the weekend following the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. One well-known Catholic pro-life leader urged prayers for the “repose of her soul”— an unbiblical concept referencing Vatican teaching that those with “venial sins” are released to Heaven after undergoing a purging in purgatory, and a Catholic group that is active outside abortion facilities advised that they pray for God to “welcome Justice Ginsburg to eternal life.”
“We join Christians across the country in praying that the Lord of Life welcome Justice Ginsburg to eternal life,” wrote 40 Days for Life in a blog post on Friday evening. “And we pray for the comfort and consolation of her family, friends, and all those who grieve her loss.”
“Rest in peace, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Let’s pray for the repose of her soul and for her family. Let’s continue to pray for our nation,” Lila Rose of Live Action posted to social media.
According to the site Catholic Culture and priest William Saunders, “The offering of masses for the repose of the soul of the faithful departed is linked with our belief in purgatory. We believe that if a person has died fundamentally believing in God but with venial sins and the hurt caused by sin, then God in His divine love and mercy will first purify the soul.”
“After this purification has been completed, the soul will have the holiness and purity needed to share in the beatific vision in Heaven.”
While some expressed appreciation for how the groups handled Ginsburg’s passing with kindness, others sought to note that their remarks simultaneously were not scriptural.
“Jesus is the only way to God, so if she didn’t know Jesus in this life, there will be consequences in eternity. Just speaking biblical truth,” one commenter wrote to Rose. “Resting in peace depends on one’s relationship with Jesus. Prayers for a dead person are useless. Pray for her family to find peace.”
“Here come the Catholics asking for prayers to get RBG out of purgatory so she doesn’t end up in Hell. This is completely unbiblical,” another opined. “Her soul cannot change destination by us praying her out or paying her way out of somewhere imaginary. No second chances. Repent and believe today!”
“Are you serious: Welcome into eternal life???” one commenter asked 40 Days for Life. “Ginsburg’s ruling killed millions of babies. What does your organization stand for? Being Christian is NOT a secret thing and Ginsburg definitely was not. You will know them by their fruit. You were better served not saying anything at all than saying this as far as I am concerned.”
Another simply articulated, “I hope that she made a deathbed confession.”
Is It Biblical?
Hebrews 9:27 explains that “it is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgment.”
In John 3:16-18, Jesus taught, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned, but He that believeth not is condemned already, because He hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
GotQuestions.org further outlines in regard to the belief in the “repose of the soul,” “A true Christian — someone who trusts in Christ alone for salvation — already has repose of the soul; he is at peace with God before he gets to Heaven, before the death of the body. Jesus said, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. … Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’ (John 14:27). In Romans 5:1 we are promised that, ‘since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.'”
“The Catholic teaching of purgatory and prayer for the dead is not biblical,” it states. “Repose of the soul, the product of saving faith in Christ, is something to be sought on this side of death. Once a person is dead, there is no more that can be done for that soul. Either that deceased person is in eternal judgment or experiencing eternal life with the Lord. Our prayers or actions will not change the situation of a person once he or she dies.”