Vatican distances itself from Pope's 'no Hell' quotation

Vatican distances itself from Pope's 'no Hell' quotation March 29, 2018

Veteran Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, 93, left, has again claimed that Pope Francis does not believe in the existence of Hell.
According to this report, he made the claim today in a front-page La Repubblica article after his his latest wide-ranging conversation with the Pope.
On the existence of Hell, Scalfari described himself asking Francis what happens to the souls of sinners, and specifically, where they are punished. He then quoted the Pope as saying:

They’re not punished. Those who repent obtain forgiveness and enter the ranks of those who contemplate him, but those who don’t repent and can’t be forgiven disappear. A Hell doesn’t exist, what exists is the disappearance of sinning souls.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke issued a now-customary distancing statement, describing the conversation as a “private meeting, without releasing any interview”, and that Scalfari’s article was:

The fruit of his own reconstruction …. and should not be considered as a faithful transcript of the Holy Father’s words.

For the record, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the official compendium of Catholic teaching, upholds the existence of Hell:

The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of Hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of Hell, ‘eternal fire’.

Francis himself has spoken of Hell as a real option for one’s eternal destiny on multiple occasions, including a 2017 to the famed Marian shrine of Fatima.

This is the fifth time Francis has sat down with Scalfari, a atheist, since the pontiff’s election in 2013, and on those previous occasions, the Vatican has said something similar about Hell after Scalfari published accounts of their conversations.
In 2016 Scalfari told a large audience in Rome that Pope Francis asked him not to convert to the Catholic faith because then he’d have to find another stimulating non-believer to speak with.
Such a task, Scalfari quoted the Pope as saying, would be “a hell of a job”.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn

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  • AgentCormac

    Hell is one of those concepts which, when you step back and view it objectively, is clearly such total and utter nonsense it’s hard to understand how anyone can possibly think it’s real. But while I’m sure well-educated Frankie is able to rationalise just how his useful that concept has been in making his empire of indoctrination the biggest in the world, all those ignorants who have been terrified into submission and destitution by it for the past two-thousand years deserve our pity.
    The concept of hell is nothing less than a weapon of terror.

  • Vanity Unfair

    Those who repent obtain forgiveness and enter the ranks of those who contemplate him, but those who don’t repent and can’t be forgiven disappear. A Hell doesn’t exist, what exists is the disappearance of sinning souls.
    Which means that the choice is either (a) an eternity of telling an egotistical megalomaniac what a wonderful entity he/she/it/they is/are or (b) oblivion: tough one, that.
    It reminds me of Bedazzled: the Peter Cook and Dudley Moore version of Faust. There is a transcription of the relevant part (it’s the final exchange printed) at but if anyone can find a film clip, that’s so much better. I lost interest in the re-make so don’t know whether it’s in that.

  • AgentCormac

    @Vanity Unfair
    Bedazzled – what a great movie that was. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore were just bloody brilliant.

  • barriejohn

    Only trailers and this, unfortunately:
    And why this obsession with remakes of perfect films (The Producers and The Ladykillers spring to mind)? Sacrilege.
    I’m sure Scalfari is not mistaken. These people don’t believe in hell – it’s a ludicrous idea, though it’s easy to see how it originated – but they do cling to the comforting idea that THEY are going to a lovely place of comfort after death, where they will be reunited with their loved ones. It’s just wishful thinking I’m afraid, but what power they wield by claiming to hold the keys to Paradise!

  • Angela_K

    The old carrot and stick invention of the religious: the devil and hell to scare gullible people into churches so they can be fleeced of cash. When I’ve asked various Christians/Catholics where are these places, how do they work, what about food, animals, how would you recognise family and friends when those physical characteristics have gone up a chimney or rotted in the soil, the answer is “you just have to believe it”. Religious logic eh?
    “Hell is other people”

  • RussellW

    The Pope is making theological progress, he claims that unrepentant sinners ‘disappear’. If he could just admit that we all disappear, both sinners and believers, he will have reached enlightenment.

  • Broga

    The Pope could lose a nice little earner there. Over the centuries the Vatican has collected vast sums by pretending to save sinners from hell. Do paedophile priests believe in hell? Or do they get forgiven shortly before they drop off the perch. So many deep theological questions to engage the faithful and entertain the atheists.

  • Robster

    Frank the pope was located this morning in a hell like situation, doing a disinfect and manicure service on prison inmates. It was suggested that Frank visit the Clergy Compound at the penitentiary but it was decided there were too many and Frank would need a fortnight to complete his duties, even with assistance. So he’s popped into the lesser crook compound, Dettol, clippers and file, poised for popely action.

  • Laura Roberts

    @barriejohn: let us not forget the contemptuous disgrace that was the 1998 remake of Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. Generally I’m opposed to harsh punishment, but in this case, the director/producer Gus Van Sant deserved at least a few years at Rikers Island.

  • barriejohn

    Laura: I was thinking of that one as well!

  • Igor

    We’ve arrived to the point of complete absurdity: Pope disagreeing with Jesus.
    Hell is the idea of gentle Jesus, meek and mild.

  • barriejohn

    Answered prayer: Bedazzled is on Talking Pictures tonight at 9:35!
    It’s obviously on their playlist. Details at the end of the trailer.
    PS If you like to wallow in nostalgia occasionally, you’ll love that channel. I’ve just watched Liberace’s 1955 Easter Special!

  • Barry Duke

    If we’re gonna be talking about movies, BarrieJohn, do see (if you haven’t already) The Shape of Water for no other reason than Christian review site Movieguide HATED it.
    “ABHORRENT …From the very beginning, all the villains are setup as God-fearing, patriotic men … ”
    Oh, and for the record I loved the remake of The Producers. Sure, they camped it up to buggery, but did it very well.

  • barriejohn

    Barry: I’ll look out for it!

  • Broga

    barriejohn: “If you like to wallow in nostalgia occasionally” . I like the old films because I can understand them and they often have a narrative and characters I like. The modern stuff, with some exceptions, seems to be made for semi-literate teenagers ,with incredible car crashes, and, to me, repellent heroes.
    I like cowboy films e.g. The Searchers, Lonely are the Brave, Shane, The Tin Star. I often spot a film from my past on Talking Pictures and have a nostalgic wallow having seen it after queuing – often in the rain.

  • barriejohn

    Sorry if we’re getting OT here, but I have younger friends who claim never to have even heard of Citizen Kane, The Third Man, Twelve Angry Men, To Kill a Mocking Bird, etc. It seems that anything B&W, in particular, can’t possibly be entertaining!
    PS Broga’s right; like radio plays, those films made you THINK. Today it all has to be served up on a plate.

  • Broga

    barriejohn: Must mention, on this site, Elmer Gantry with a great performance by Burt Lancaster.

  • barriejohn

    Broga: Base on that fraud and rabble-rouser, Billy Sunday, as was Billy Graham’s performance, especially in his younger days. I just saw him as a talented actor and orator, really.

  • Vanity Unfair

    To barriejohn:
    I have just switched to 81. Many, many thanks.

  • Broga

    God has contacted Frankie. Some of the Sistine Chapel roof fell only hours after Frankie denied that hell existed. The faithful have drawn the obvious conclusion. But why did God drop the roof of the Sistine Chapel when the Vatican has said that Frankie was misinterpreted by an atheist journalist. God should have dropped the roof of the atheis’ts garage.
    Or does God read and believe the newspapers for information? If so God is unusually gullible. Is the ruler of the cosmos fit for purpose?

  • barriejohn

    Broga: Hahaha – St Peter’s Basilica, actually. Reminds me of what they said about the fire (caused by a lightning strike) at York Minster two days after David Jenkins was installed as archbishop. This pope has also made comments about God “not doing conjuring tricks”. He’s obviously very touchy about that!

  • Broga

    barriejohn: Yes, St Peter’s Basilica. I took my mother, an atheist, to Rome as a 90th birthday present. We were impressed by the splendour surrounding us. There was a journalist from an American magazine asking people what impressed them most. I said things like the Colleseum, the Sistine Chapel etc. He turned to my mum and asked her opinion and asked what she liked best.
    “They were very nice but I thought the plane flight was best. That’s what I am most looking forward to tomorrow.”
    I could see he thought my mum was crazy. “My grandson is flying the plane. That’s what I liked the best.” I tried to find the magazine he was writing for but couldn’t. However the story remains in the family.
    I think there is a moral in there somewhere.

  • barriejohn

    Broga: Hahaha, again! I love looking around ancient buildings, but I often wonder about the effect that they had on the population, most of whom lived in little more than shacks at the time. The enormity of these edifices amply demonstrated their lowly estate (where God had placed them, obviously). Look, for example, at Burghley House, near Stamford (16th C); it’s ginormous even by today’s standards, and one wing is missing!

  • Gaurav Tyagi

    On the subject of movies. I would recommend the film; Leaving Las Vegas. It’s a very touching movie;

  • Broga

    Gaurav Tyagi : I have not seen that but I have just read a synopsis of the plot and will look out for it. Alcoholism and writers is a fascinating subject.

  • Gaurav Tyagi

    @Broga, Alcoholism and writers is indeed a fascinating subject. I also like drinking as well as writing 🙂
    This is a sample of Indian media’s and establishment’s opinion about me;

  • Angela_K

    Leaving Las Vegas is a worthwhile film to see, the direction by Mike Figgis is excellent – he also composed some of the very atmospheric original music. Nicholas Cage acts his socks off, showing the pain and misery of addiction.

  • Broga

    Gaurav Tyagi : “Blistering” – seems like you are making an impact. As for writers, the drinkers, often alcoholic, are too many to mention but Hemingway ( I prefer the short stories), Scott Fitzgerald and Raymond Chandler come to mind.

  • Gaurav Tyagi

    Not to forget the great Christopher Hitchens as well 🙂

  • Broga

    Gaurav Tyagi : Definitely. His brilliant exposure of Mother Theresa has left a stain on her reputation that a dozen sainthoods will not remove.

  • Daz

    To add to the list of must-see films: Seven Days To Noon, (1950). There’s also a hardly-related sequel, High Treason, from the following year. It’s fun, but has nowhere near the impact of the first movie. I’d also recommend The Day The Earth Caught Fire, 1961. Silly premise, but great drama.

  • barriejohn

    Daz: Seven Days to Noon (Boulting Brothers) was a brilliant film. I only saw it about ten years ago, and couldn’t understand why it isn’t better known. It won an Oscar for “Best Story”, but I’m not sure how that relates to the screenplay, as it was based upon the book Un Nazi en Manhattan. Sam Kydd was in it, of course!

  • 1859

    Tonight we’re about to finish ‘The Handmaid’s Tale ‘
    (season 1) pretty gruelling, though it’s beginning to descend into cliche. Do any of you guys know if there were any Christian protests when this series was first broadcast? The book was written in the mid-80’s and I don’t remember any christian fatwas being issued at the time against Atwood?
    My favourite B&W film – ‘The Twelve Angry Men’.
    Next favourite, Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’. Films that you watch and come away a changed person.