French-born Pope Benedict XII, the 197th successor of Peter, in the second year of his eight-year papacy in Avignon, issued the dogmatic Apostolic Constitution Benedictus Deus on the Beatific Vision in which he decreed that there should be no doubt as to the fact that all souls who are received into Heaven immediately see then and forever Almighty God face to face. Likewise, he decreed that those souls who die with mortal sin on their soul do not, but rather descend immediately into hell as he so clearly and concisely put it in his edict. It was Benedict who also reformed the Benedictine, Dominican and Franciscan Orders and demanded Bishops live within the diocese of their jurisdiction.
On the Beatific Vision of God
By this Constitution which is to remain in force for ever, we, with apostolic authority, define the following:
According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints who departed from this world before the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and also of the holy apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins and other faithful who died after receiving the holy baptism of Christ - provided they were not in need of any purification when they died, or will not be in need of any when they die in the future, or else, if they then needed or will need some purification, after they have been purified after death - and again the souls of children who have been reborn by the same baptism of Christ or will be when baptism is conferred on them, if they die before attaining the use of free will: all these souls, immediately (mox) after death and, in the case of those in need of purification, after the purification mentioned above, since the ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into Heaven, already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment, have been, are and will be with Christ in Heaven, in the Heavenly kingdom and paradise, joined to the company of the holy angels.
Since the passion and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and see the divine essense with an intuitive vision and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature by way of object of vision; rather the divine essence immediately manifests itself to them, plainly, clearly and openly, and in this vision they enjoy the divine essence . Moreover, by this vision and enjoyment the souls of those who have already died are truly blessed and have eternal life and rest. Also the souls of those who will die in the future will see the same divine essence and will enjoy it before the general judgment.
Such a vision and enjoyment of the divine essence do away with the acts of faith and hope in these souls, inasmuch as faith and hope are properly theological virtues. And after such intuitive and face-to-face vision and enjoyment has or will have begun for these souls, the same vision and enjoyment has continued and will continue without any interruption and without end until the last Judgment and from then on forever.
Moreover we define that according to the general disposition of God, the souls of those who die in actual mortal sin go down into hell immediately (mox) after death and there suffer the pain of hell.
Nevertheless, on the day of judgment all men will appear with their bodies "before the judgment-seat of Christ" to give an account of their personal deeds, "that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil" (II Corinthians v: x).