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The Vatican Is in Damage Control Mode After Pope Francis Is Misquoted Saying 'Hell Does Not Exist'

The Vatican Is in Damage Control Mode After Pope Francis Is Misquoted Saying 'Hell Does Not Exist'
(Alessandra Benedetti - Corbis/Getty Images)

The Vatican is frantically extinguishing a wildfire rumor and asserting that Pope Francis did not say "hell does not exist" in an interview.

Italian journalist and founder of La Repubblica newspaper Eugenio Scalfari interviewed the pontiff, asking him where "bad souls" end up. According to an article published on March 29, Francis said those who repent can be forgiven but those who do not will "disappear."

Scalfari, a self-proclaimed atheist, quoted Francis as saying, "A hell doesn't exist, the disappearance of sinning souls exists."

The statement would be a major contradiction from the dogma of the Catholic Church which states, "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, which include 'eternal fire.'"

The pope's words according to Scalfari dismissed the church's established precept.

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.

How sinners suffer the consequences.


The fifth meeting between the 93-year-old journalist and Francis was a private occasion in observation of Easter, but the papacy did not grant an official interview, according to the Vatican.

On Thursday the Holy See stated that a reported interview between Pope Francis and an Italian journalist, which claims the Pope denied the existence of hell, should not be considered an accurate depiction of Francis' words, but the author's own "reconstruction."

The Vatican set the record straight.

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.

Scalfari prides himself in refusing the employ of recording devices or taking notes for his interviews with leaders. Which is why he wasn't granted an official interview during his fifth meeting with Francis. Scalfari reconstructed the pope's words in previous interviews.

According to the Catholic News Agency, Scalfari admitted that the words from a November 2013 article "were not shared by the Pope himself."

He told the Foreign Press Association in Rome, "I try to understand the person I am interviewing, and after that I write his answers with my own words."

Pope Francis confirmed the existence of hell during a March 2014 prayer vigil when he addressed that the mafia should change their amoral inclinations "while there is still time, so that you do not end up in hell. That is what awaits you if you continue on this path."

Friendly fire?


H/T - CNA, USAtoday, Twitter, Independent