- Pope Francis was reported to have said that souls of sinners will disappear in the after-life instead of going to hell
- In a purported interview said to have been granted to an Italian journalist, the Pope was reported to have said that there is nothing like hell fire, adding that what exists is the disappearance of the souls of sinners
The Vatican issued a statement rebuking the well-known Italian journalist who quoted Pope Francis as saying hell does not exist, Reuters has reported.
YEN.com.gh had earlier carried a report quoting Pope Francis as having deviated from the general belief that hell is real when he stated that the souls of sinners will disappear in the after-life instead of going to hell.
During the reported conversation with a 93-year-old atheist philosopher, Eugenio Scalfari, the 266th and current pope of the Catholic church was reported to have said that hell does not exist, adding that the disappearance of the souls of sinners is what exists, The Times reported.
"They are not punished, those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and go among the ranks of the souls who contemplate him. But those who do not repent, and therefore cannot be forgiven, disappear,” the report quoted Pope Francis as saying.
But The Vatican issued a statement after the comments spread on social media, saying they did not properly reflect what the pope had said.
Eugenio Scalfari, 93, an avowed atheist who has struck up an intellectual friendship with Francis, met the pope recently and wrote up a long story that included a question-and-answer section at the end.
The Vatican said the pope did not grant him an interview and the article “was the fruit of his reconstruction” not a “faithful transcription of the Holy Father’s words”.
Scalfari, who is the founder of one of Italy's leading newspapers, La Repubblica, sis reported to have stated that he reconstructed the conversation from memory, without taking notes or using a recorder.
During the five years of his pontificate, Francis has laid emphasis on the mercy of God rather than the severity of his judgment.
According to traditional church teaching, those who die as sinners face eternal punishment by unquenchable fire in hell.
Speaking at St Peter’s Square in 2017, the Pope said that judgment was not to be feared because “at the end of our history there is the merciful Jesus”.
He had on another occasion described heaven as a place where the just go to be rewarded, and as “an immense tent, where God will welcome all mankind”.
Reuters is reporting that it was at least the third time the Vatican has issued statements distancing itself from Scalfari’s articles about the Pope, including one in 2014 in which the journalist said the pontiff had abolished sin.
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