by WorldTribune Staff, March 30, 2018
The Vatican scrambled to clarify a report by an Italian journalist which quoted Pope Francis as saying “there is no hell.”
The Vatican said “no quotations” in the March 29 article by La Repubblica founder Eugenio Scalfari “should be considered as a faithful transcription” of the Pope’s words.
In the interview, Scalfari asked the pontiff: “What about bad souls? Where are they punished?”
Bad souls “are not punished,” Pope Francis is quoted as saying, adding, “those who do not repent and cannot therefore be forgiven disappear. There is no hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls.”
Catholic Church doctrine affirms the existence of hell, where the souls of sinners descend into and suffer “eternal fire.”
Meanwhile, just hours after the Pope is alleged to have denied the existence of hell, the Vatican sealed off part of St. Peter’s Basilica after chunks of plaster rained down on worshipers.
Plaster fell near Michelangelo’s famed Pieta statue on March 29, near the main entrance. No one was injured.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said repairmen are working to secure the site and the basilica remained open. He said it would reopen as normal on March 30.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the most senior Catholic in England and Wales, told the BBC “there’s nowhere in Catholic teaching that actually says any one person is in hell,” adding Pope Francis was apparently exploring “the imagery of hell – fire and brimstone and all of that.”
Nichols added: “That’s never been part of Catholic teaching, it’s been part of Catholic iconography, part of Christian iconography.”
Columnist Pat Buchanan wrote that, if there is no hell “What did Christ die on the cross to save us from?”
Buchanan noted: “On the first Holy Thursday, Judas betrayed Christ. And of Judas the Lord said, ‘Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man shall be betrayed; it were better for him if that man had never been born.’
“Did the soul of Judas, and those of the monstrous evildoers of history, ‘just fade away,’ as Gen. Douglas MacArthur said of old soldiers? If there is no hell, is not the greatest deterrent to the worst of sins removed?”
Buchanan continued: “Had the pope been speaking ex cathedra, as the vicar of Christ on earth, he would be contradicting 2,000 years of Catholic doctrine, rooted in the teachings of Christ himself. He would be calling into question papal infallibility, as defined in 1870 by the Vatican Council of Pius IX. Questions would arise as to whether Francis is a true pope.”
The Vatican’s statement on Francis’s interview, Buchanan wrote, “will not do. This does not answer the questions the pope raised in his chat. Does hell exist? Are souls that die in mortal sin damned to hell for all eternity? Does the pope accept this belief? Is this still the infallible teaching of the Roman Catholic Church?”