The non-Catholics and the atheists on my discussion board are having a field day with this question: If God is all love and is merciful, why is there eternal punishment?
If I were a betting person, I’d bet that these same people consider themselves compassionate in their concern that women have the ability to choose to “terminate” a pregnancy. Of course, this doesn’t do much for the child’s ability to choose to live. A one-sided compassion is not compassion at all.
The Catholic Church supports choice for all because God does. He gives us the freedom to choose to serve him or to choose to serve Satan. But ultimately, we can only serve one of them—not both.
God is merciful to those who want his mercy. But he doesn’t force himself on us. We have the freedom to choose by the way we live our lives. After we have died, if we have chosen to serve Satan, then we belong to him. We cannot go back and re-choose any more than a woman can go back and re-conceive the child she has aborted.
There is a hell because we have the freedom to choose evil instead of serving God. To choose away from God is hell—pretty basic stuff. God doesn’t choose to send us there. That choice is entirely up to us.
Your debate board people want to have it both ways. This is very unrealistic and blindly naïve. Oil and water will mix long before love and evil ever will. Most of all, God is a loving God. He wants us not to reject him even more than we want him not to reject us. But we can only realize this with faith.