Things got a little heated at the Vatican this week when an Italian journalist reported that Pope Francis denied the existence of hell.
Apparently, the fiery 93-year-old avowed atheist reporter, Eugenio Scalfari of La Repubblica, set the social media world aflame after writing in Italian that when asked about the fate of “bad souls,” the pontiff responded, “Hell does not exist.”
The pope continued, according to Scalfari, saying (emphasis ours), “The disappearance of sinful souls exists.”
The statements spurred Catholics and other believers to grab their virtual pitchforks to express their fury, which the Vatican has since tried to cool.
The Vatican adamantly rejected Scalfari’s characterization of the conversation, which it insisted was not an official interview but rather a “private meeting.”
On Friday — Good Friday — the Vatican issued a statement saying:
And an article by the Catholic News Service said Scalfari has admitted “on more than one occasion” that he doesn’t take notes or record his conversations with the pope. In other words, he prefers to take, let’s say, a memoirist approach to his reporting. He relies largely on memory and recollection, as opposed to documentation.
The news outlet also reminded readers that this is a favored subject of Scalfari’s. It reported the journalist wrote a similar article in 2014, so this is a … resurrection, of sorts.
The news service wrote:
As a final bit of proof that Pope Francis truly holds the belief that hell is real, the religious news outlet offered this bit of fire-and-brimstone bit of advice: “Convert, there is still time for not ending up in hell. It is what is waiting for you if you continue on this path.”
Easter — the day Christians celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection — is on Sunday.