The Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis is at the centre of a storm after a newspaper quoted him as saying hell does not exist.
Following the uproar generated by the interview, the Vatican on Thursday stated that the claims should not be considered an accurate depiction of Francis’ words, but the author’s own “reconstruction.”
This came after a recent meeting between Pope Francis and Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari, 93, which the Holy See said was a “private meeting for the occasion of Easter; however, without giving him any interview.”
“What is reported by the author in today’s article is the result of his reconstruction, in which the literal words pronounced by the Pope are not quoted. No quotation of the aforementioned article must therefore be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”
Scalfari, a self-proclaimed atheist, is the founder and former editor of Italian leftist newspaper La Repubblica.
In an article published on the site March 29, Scalfari claims that Pope Francis told him, “hell doesn’t exist, the disappearance of the souls of sinners exists.”
But this is not the first time that Scalfari – who has met the Pope five times – has misrepresented his words.
In November 2013, following intense controversy over quotes the journalist had attributed to Francis, Scalfari admitted that at least some of the words he had published a month prior “were not shared by the Pope himself.”
“I try to understand the person I am interviewing, and after that I write his answers with my own words,” Scalfari explained. He conceded that it is therefore possible that “some of the Pope’s words I reported, were not shared by Pope Francis.”
Scalfari also falsely reported that Pope Francis had made comments denying the existence of hell in 2015.
Pope Francis has previously spoken about the existence of hell in public speeches, including at a prayer vigil in March 2014 where he said members of the mafia should change their lives, “while there is still time, so that you do not end up in hell. That is what awaits you if you continue on this path.”
The Vatican response notwithstanding, the Pope’s alleged take on that most basic tenet of Christianity has sparked an internet meltdown…
I'm think all religion is silly, but does anyone else find it somewhat odd that the Pope is disavowing basic tenets of Catholicism? https://t.co/Ys8NIhCtCY
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) March 29, 2018
Pope Francis has gone too far. Saying There Is No Hell is against the basic tenets of Catholicism.
— Carmine Sabia (@CarmineSabia) March 29, 2018
The pattern is well established: Scalfari attributes controversial statements to the pope; the Vatican cautions that they are not exact quotations but doesn't specifically deny them. By now it is clear that this is one of the ways in which Pope Francis has chosen to communicate.
— Francis X. Rocca (@FrancisXRocca) March 29, 2018
1. Stunning to read @Pontifex comments. What Pope Francis reportedly said not only flies in the face of his own church but also the consensus of countless NDE experiences, which we've studied. Option 1 = Oblivion, which is when God "forgets" you, and it IS the punishment.
— Richard Baris (@Peoples_Pundit) March 29, 2018
Pope Francis says "there is no hell." Does this guy even know what Christianity or Catholicism is? If there is a hell, there's most likely a reserved seat in it for this Pope. At least we have a President who is a true Christian!
— Josh Hall (@realJoshuaHall) March 29, 2018
Pope Francis says "There Is No Hell"
Wishful thinking for a man that covered up for child molesters?https://t.co/28yK4JahZ1
— 🇺🇸 Andrew Meyer 🔥 (@TheAndrewMeyer) March 29, 2018
I am astonished and disturbed that the Pope @Pontifex rejects undeniable Biblical teaching, Jesus’s own words(!) —during Holy Week!— that Hell is real and is eternal.
When we remake God and His word into our own liking we’re not worshipping Him, we’re worshipping a false idol. pic.twitter.com/ThQpmcRK31
— Dr. Milton Wolf (@MiltonWolfMD) March 29, 2018