Vat­i­can scram­bles to clar­ify Pope de­nial of hell

La Repub­blica er­ro­neously re­ported pon­tiff’s words: Holy See

The Asian Age - - World -

Rome, March 30: The Vat­i­can has scram­bled to clar­ify com­ments made by Pope Fran­cis to a well­known Ital­ian jour­nal­ist that ap­peared to deny the ex­is­tence of hell, re­ported the Guardian on Fri­day.

The Holy See is­sued a terse state­ment say­ing a lengthy ar­ti­cle pub­lished in La Repub­blica on Wed­nes­day by Eu­ge­nio Scal­fari, 93, the news­pa­per’s founder, was “the fruit of his re­con­struc­tion” and not “a faith­ful tran­scrip­tion of the Holy Fa­ther’s words”.

While the Vat­i­can con­ceded that Scal­fari, an athe­ist who struck up a friend­ship with Fran­cis in 2013, had held a pri­vate meet­ing with the pon­tiff ahead of the Easter week­end, it said an in­ter­view had not been granted.

Dur­ing the meet­ing

Scal­fari asked the Pope where “bad souls” go, to which he was quoted as re­spond­ing: “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 said the “lit­eral words pro­nounced by the Pope are not quoted” and that “no quo­ta­tion of the ar­ti­cle should be con­sid­ered as a faith­ful tran­scrip­tion of the words of the Holy Fa­ther.”

Scal­fari is said to pride him­self on not tak­ing notes or record­ing high- pro­file in­ter­views. But this is not the first time he has been ac­cused of mis­rep­re­sent­ing the Pope: in 2014 he was re­buked by the Vat­i­can for an ar­ti­cle say­ing Fran­cis had abol­ished sin. The friend­ship has been crit­i­cised in the past, with Scal­fari once say­ing that it was the pope who asked for the meet­ings as he liked to “ex­change ideas and sen­ti­ments with non- be­liev­ers”.

The Catholic church’s teach­ings af­firm the ex­is­tence of hell and its eter­nity, say­ing “the chief pun­ish­ment of hell is eter­nal sep­a­ra­tion of God”.

Pope Bene­dict XVI said in 2007 that hell “re­ally ex­ists and is eter­nal, even if no­body talks about it much any­more”.

— AFP

In this hand­out picture re­leased by the Vat­i­can press of­fice Pope Fran­cis washes the feet of in­mates at the ‘ Regina Coeli’ prison in Rome on Thurs­day dur­ing the Holy Thurs­day cel­e­bra­tions.

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