Did Pope Francis say there is no hell? Not quite, the Vatican insists
Hell hath no fury like a misquoted pope — especially when it comes to, well, hell.
Three days before Easter, the Vatican tried to tamp down a firestorm over a comment attributed to Pope Francis that hell “does not exist,” which would mark a historic break with teachings of the Catholic Church.
The Vatican on Thursday rebuked Eugenio Scalfari, 93, a well-known Italian journalist who is the founder of Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper.
When asked where “bad souls” end up, according to the article in Thursday’s La Repubblica, Francis reportedly said that those who repent can be forgiven, but those who don’t repent simply “disappear.”
And then came the four words heard ’round the world: “Hell does not exist,” the article quoted the pope as saying. “The disappearance of sinful souls exists.”
The Vatican issued a statement after the comments spread like wildfire on social media, saying the pope never granted the interview and the story was “the result of (the reporter’s) reconstruction,” not a “faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”
Scalfari, an atheist, is known for not using tape recorders or taking notes during interviews.
The pope, meanwhile, had another revelation on Holy Thursday: He suffers from cataracts and will have surgery next year.
Francis disclosed the information after washing the feet of 12 prisoners at a Rome prison, a Holy Thursday ritual.
Francis, who uses his prison visits to boost the spirits of the incarcerated, told the inmates they must clear their eyes so they can see and spread hope.
“At my age, for example, cataracts come and you don’t see reality well,” Francis, 81, said.
He urged the inmates to do a daily cleansing of their own to buoy their faith – a “cataract surgery for the soul.”
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