Pope Francis has a rich history of seemingly straying off-doctrine, but according to Italian paper La Repubblica on Wednesday he got into the Easter spirit by telling an interviewer that Hell doesn’t actually exist. Which seems accurate, admittedly, but a weird thing for a pope to bring up.
The comment was made in one of his conversations with the paper’s founder, 93 year old Eugenio Scalfari, who had a meeting with Francis recently although it was not reportedly specifically for the purpose of an interview.
According to the article Scalfari – who is an atheist and something of a friend of the chatty pontiff – asked Francis where bad souls go after people die. The reply, as he reported it, was “They are not punished. Those who repent obtain God’s forgiveness and take their place among the ranks of those who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot be forgiven disappear. A hell doesn’t exist, the disappearance of sinning souls exists.”
The Vatican have rushed out a statement denying that the report was accurate, pointing out that it was not recorded, wasn’t an interview and that the “literal words pronounced by the pope are not quoted… no quotation of the article should be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father”.
And not that we want to play popes off against one another, but Benedict declared that Hell “really exists and is eternal, even if nobody talks about it much anymore”. Although given it was 2007, maybe he was talking about Berlin. Remember when it was super cool and everyone was moving there? Man, it sounded great.
Where Francis stands with regard to the existence of Tatooine, Wakanda and Westeros could not be confirmed at press time.