Title of a constitution of Benedict XII issued Jan. 29, 1336. It was occasioned by the activity of his predecessor, John XXII, who had preached that it is only at the resurrection of the body on the last day that the just will begin to enjoy the beatific vision and sinners suffer the pains of hell; the day before he died, however, John retracted these views in the bull Ne super his. Benedict had as a cardinal written a full account of the condition of the disembodied souls prior to the general judgment; he had this book thoroughly inspected by theologians and then made the infallible pronouncement contained in Benedictus Deus. This document states that in the ordinary plan of God all who after death have undergone whatever purgation is necessary immediately (i.e., prior to the recovery of their bodies at the general judgment) enjoy the beatific vision and do so continuously. It further states that in God's ordinary plan all who die in actual mortal sin immediately suffer the pains of hell (i.e., prior to their appearance at the general judgment).
Bibliography: j. d. mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, 31 v. (Florence-Venice 1757–98); reprinted and continued by l. petit and j. b. martin, 53 v. in 60 (Paris 1889–1927; repr. Graz 1960–) 25:985–987. h. denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum, ed. a. schÖnmetzer (32d ed. Freiburg 1963) 1000–02.