Thursday interview with Italian daily La Repubblica, Pope Francis was quoted as saying there is no hell where the souls of sinners suffer in eternity”.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio said, “Hell does not exist – what exists is the disappearance of sinful souls,” .
“After death, the souls of people who repent are pardoned by God and join in his contemplation, “but those who do not repent, and therefore cannot be pardoned, disappear.”
In an interviewed by Eugenio Scalfari, a veteran Italian journalist and atheist,who regularly muses about faith and religion, and enjoys access to the leader of the Catholic Church.
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.”
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.”
The Catholic News Agency reported that Scalfari has “misrepresented” the pope in the past. The agency reported that Scalfari “aslo falsely reported that Pope Francis had made comments denying the existence of hell in 2015.”
Catholic Church teachings, there is a hell and it is for 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,”
The Vatican said. “No quotation of the aforementioned article must therefore be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”
The Associated Press