The Vatican is pushing back on reports Pope Francis said “there is no Hell,” a claim contradicting basic teachings of the Catholic Church. Eugenio Scalfari, the pope’s longtime atheist friend, published the interview headlined, “The Pope: It is an honor to be called revolutionary” on March 28, 2018 in La Repubblica.
Mr. Scalfari to Pope Francis:
Your Holiness, in our previous meeting you told me that our species will disappear in a certain moment and that God, still out of his creative force, will create new species. You have never spoken to me about the souls who died in sin and will go to hell to suffer it for eternity. You have however spoken to me of good souls, admitted to the contemplation of God. But what about bad souls? Where are they punished?
Pope Francis responded:
They are not punished, those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and enter the rank of souls who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot therefore be forgiven disappear. There is no hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls.
The report garnered worldwide attention, for good reason. The alleged remark is in direct conflict with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Part 1, Chapter 3 (I Believe in the Holy Spirit), Article 12 Section 4 (1035), reads as follows:
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.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
But now the Vatican claims the quote given by the author was not a “faithful transcription,” but rather Mr. Scalfari’s “reconstruction.”
“The Holy Father Francis recently received the founder of the newspaper La Repubblica in a private meeting on the occasion of Easter, without however giving him any interviews. What is reported by the author in today’s article [in La Repubblica] is the result of his reconstruction, in which the textual words pronounced by the Pope are not quoted. No quotation of the aforementioned article must therefore be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”