Four words shot round the world on March 29th, allegedly uttered by Pope Francis of Rome, and they have caused a LOT of controversy, including what may be a response from Above as the ceiling plaster of St Peter’s Basilica began falling on worshipers below.
Those four words were:
There is no Hell.
The interviewer, Eugenio Scalfari, is an atheist, and also a longtime friend of the Pope. This in itself is not an unusual occurrence, as it is often the case that religious people attract very non-religious friendships. However, the interview itself went this way:
Scalfari: “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: “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.”
This last statement rocketed around the world in nothing flat. Here at The Duran, I watched the piece surface, but didn’t believe it because it was disputed by the Vatican as not being a faithful recounting, and further:
What is reported by the author in today’s article is the result of his reconstruction, in which the literal 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.”
You name the media outlet, they probably ran with it. The Vatican’s response is really not that helpful, either, for it is merely rather dismissive instead of corrective. There is a context set for this, that Scalfari is known not to use any recording devices when he does his “interviews” which are themselves sometimes rather impromptu conversations. He then writes what he remembers in his own words.
But this still calls to question the matter of why is the Roman Church not being clear about this? Why isn’t Pope Francis himself not being clear about this?
As a matter of fact, God himself may be telling us something, as plaster reportedly fell on the heads of worshippers in St Peter’s Basilica, just hours after this “there is no Hell” statement was released and began rocketing around the world.
Thankfully, no one was injured, and workmen closed off part of the Basilica to make repairs. The Roman Catholic Church is celebrating Holy Week this week, so there are many, many pilgrims worshiping at St Peter’s.
The soft response by Rome to this story is of partial concern, but what is also strange is that there is no concern for another very strange comment hiding in plain sight in this reported interview. To requote it:
Scalfari: “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.
Where did this idea come from? While a similar point of view arises is James Gustafson’s Ethics from a Theocentric Perspective, Volume 1, there was no locatable reference to any of Pope Francis’ other statements that says he actually said this. If he had, this would again be a major theological departure from traditionally held belief regarding the creation of Man in particular as the pinnacle and unique creation of God that the Church has always maintained as true.
Pope Francis made an amusing comment when he was first elected Pope, telling the group cardinals and bishops who elected him, “May God forgive you for what you’ve done...”
It could be that he meant what he said.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.