Mainstream media was in a furor last week over the news of Pope Francis purportedly saying that “hell does not exist” and that unrepentant souls in mortal sin simply “disappear.”
On the eve of the Holy Thursday, an Italian journalist published an article claiming that the pope had told him that hell does not exist. Eugenio Scalfari, 93, atheist journalist and founder of the left-wing newspaper La Repubblica, claimed on March 28 that Pope Francis had told him two days before that the souls of those who do not go to heaven are annihilated.
“Souls are not punished,” Francis allegedly said. “Those who repent obtain God’s forgiveness and go among the ranks of those who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot be forgiven disappear. There is no hell — there is the disappearance of sinful souls.”
Scalfari’s article — and then the Vatican’s vague warnings not to trust it — was picked up by mainstream media worldwide.
The story was highlighted in the United States by the Drudge Report, whose online headline shrieked “Pope Declares No Hell?” It linked to a March 29 article by Michael W. Chapman of CNS News, who called Francis’s alleged remarks “a denial of the 2,000-year-old teaching of the Catholic Church about the reality of Hell and the eternal existence of the soul.”
Chapman cited the translation of the popular Catholic news blog “Rorate Caeli.”
The New York Times led with the news that the Vatican had responded to the Repubblica piece with an assertion that Pope Francis does indeed believe in hell and that “no quotation of the article should be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”
The Times observed that Scalfari does not make notes or use a tape recorder during interviews. Despite this fact, the report also observed that this interview had been Scalfari’s fifth meeting with the Argentinian pontiff.
The “Daily Intelligencer” of New York Magazine said that it was “beyond ironic” that Good Friday was “marked by a murky debate over a claim that Pope Francis recently denied the existence of Hell in a discussion with an atheist friend.”
“It’s hard to imagine your average Pope having any atheists friends with whom he holds genial conversations. But Francis isn’t your average Pope, and so the controversy continues to rage despite the Vatican’s efforts to pour cold water on its hellish fires.”
‘Left is even corrupting the Catholic Church’
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said that “it was easy to see, with this pope, that the left is even corrupting the Catholic Church”, something he had not thought possible after meeting the late Cardinal O’Connor of New York.
“This pope comes along, and I tell you, not just this,” Limbaugh said. “This pope is left-wing politically active on things like climate change. The whole left-wing agenda, the whole liberal agenda, this pope articulates it, and this pope is doing what he can to intermingle his own personal political beliefs with church doctrine. I never thought I would see that. I mean, I know there are leftists and liberals all over every organization, I’m not being naive, but the church is the church. What it believes is what it believes. It doesn’t change because public opinion changes, and yet it is, at least this pope seems to be doing just that.”
The Wall Street Journal intimated that with his remarks, which the Vatican did not deny, Pope Francis had yet again astonished.
“It was an extreme yet telling example of how Pope Francis has shaken up perceptions of Catholic doctrine,” wrote Francis X. Rocca, “drawing widespread attention from the non-Catholic world and causing turmoil within the church.”
Rocca detailed Francis’s emphasis on social and economic issues, and his downplaying of sexual and medical ethics. “Part of Pope Francis’ strategy has been generally to play down the importance of formal teaching,” he wrote.
The Boston Globe interviewed Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft, who disbelieved Scalfari’s report that Francis had told him hell doesn’t exist.
“I doubt he said that because it’s heresy outright,” Kreeft said and explained the significance of the doctrine of hell.
“If there’s no hell, then heaven is no big deal,” he told the Globe. “If there’s no valley, the mountain isn’t very high. If it doesn’t exist, then ultimately we don’t have free will. … Scratch the doctrine of hell, and you find the possibility of free will underneath it.”
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Source: Life Site News