“Imagine… No hell below us.” John Lennon Imagine
On Holy Thursday, the day of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, the world’s media announced that Pope Francis said that there is no hell and that after death unrepentant souls simply disappear. The announcement was derived from an article by the Pope’s longtime friend, Eugenio Scalfari, an atheistic journalist.
This is the second time that the world’s media has announced that Pope Francis said that there is no hell. The first announcement was also derived from an article by Mr. Scalfari that he published in 2015. That article reported that after death there is no punishment for a lost soul, but the annihilation of that soul.
Annihilationism is a belief that after death lost souls will be totally destroyed and disappear so as to not exist rather than suffering eternally in hell.
The Catholic Encyclopedia describes annihilationism as one of “arbitrary and vain subterfuges, unsupported by any sound reason; positive punishment is the natural recompense for evil.” Human beings have immortal souls that can never simply disappear or be annihilated, but will spend eternity in either heaven or hell.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. 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, ‘eternal fire.’ The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.” (Section 1035).
After the world media announcement that Pope Francis said that there is no hell, the Vatican released a statement that simply stated that the words that Mr. Scalfari attributed to the Pope were not his “exact words”. The statement said, “What is reported by the author in today’s article is the result of his reconstruction, in which the pope’s exact words are not cited. No quotation of the aforementioned article must therefore be considered as a faithful transcription of the Holy Father’s words.”
Remarkably, neither Pope Francis nor the Vatican statement denied that the Pope said that there is no hell, nor did they deny any contents of the article, nor did they state that it was erroneous, nor did they teach the truth about the existence of hell and its eternity. Their failure to do any of this leaves a reasonable implication that Mr. Scalfari’s article is a substantially true and accurate report of his discussion with Pope Francis even if it is not, as the Vatican statement said, “a faithful transcription of the Holy Father’s words.”
The media announcement to the world has caused a grave scandal, because most people will just remember the headline that Pope Francis said that there is no hell. This will give many people an excuse to continue sinning, eating, drinking and being merry, because the only consequence will be that they will disappear.
Pope Benedict XV proclaimed, “The Virgin of Guadalupe is the Protectress of the Pontiff.” So, let us pray the Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe for the protection, sanctification and salvation of Pope Francis.