The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Hell and Pope Francis

Let’s hope the lesson regarding Mr. Scalfari has finally been learned so we don’t see further international headlines recounting this or that alleged contradiction by Pope Francis of some basic Christian tenet.

Pope Francis greets the crowd during his Easter message and blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city and the world) delivered from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 1. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

“Hell does not exist,” Pope Francis supposedly told atheist journalist Eugenio Scalfari, “what exists is the disappearance of sinful souls.”

The trouble is, there is ample evidence to indicate that Pope Francis affirms the Church’s (and, let us remember, Jesus’) teaching on hell.

Last Holy Thursday, when news of Scalfari’s controversial claim was published, all hell broke out on the Internet. The Drudge Report posted it top, front, and center. Major media outlets ran the story. Columnists began to opine. Defenders and critics of Pope Francis went at each other. Many ordinary Catholics wondered what was happening. The Vatican Communications Office responded promptly:

The Holy Father Francis recently received the founder of the newspaper La Repubblica in a private meeting on the occasion of Easter, without however giving him any interviews. What is reported by the author in today’s article is the result of his reconstruction, in which the textual words pronounced by the Pope are not quoted. No quotation of the aforementioned article must therefore be considered as a faithful transcription of the word of the Holy Father.

The “take home” point of the above is that the account of the Holy Father’s remarks is not reliable.

Some important distinctions are in order about this whole business.

1. There is the issue of whether in general Pope Francis has taught the reality of hell, understood as a permanent state of existence. He has. Repeatedly. This should have been a clue to media about the dubious nature of Scalfari’s claim, especially given his modus operandi of not taking notes and reconstructing what he alleges to have been said from memory alone. Whatever Pope Francis said or didn’t say in his private conversation with Mr. Scalfari, elsewhere he has made clear he stands by traditional Christian teaching on hell. So: repent and believe the good news.

2. There is the issue of what Pope Francis actually said to Mr. Scalfari. There is no transcript or official record of what was said. It’s possible that Pope Francis spoke in theologically nuanced ways about hell, to try to address crude ideas of his atheist conversation partner. For whatever reason, in such a scenario, Mr. Scalfari missed the nuances and simply misunderstood.

3. There is the issue of what Mr. Scalfari claims Pope Francis said. As Scalfari represents things, Pope Francis affirmed a kind of annihilationism, which is the idea that damned persons simply cease to exist. Groups such as Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as some liberal Christian theologians, have affirmed annihilationism. In a loose sense annihilation might be regarded as a sort of damnation—an eternal consequence of an evil life. But annihilationism is a doctrine substantially different from hell as the Catholic Church and most other Christian churches have traditionally understood it.

4. There is the distinction between things a pope might say to others in private conversations and official teaching acts of the pope. While we have no significant reason to suppose Pope Francis said something in private to Mr. Scalfari that contradicts what the Pope has publicly taught, it is the public teaching that represents his office, not whatever opinions he might privately share.

5. Although the Vatican’s statement implicitly warns against relying on the Scalfari account, it doesn’t state what, in fact, Pope Francis said to Scalfari. Given the circumstances of the conversation and multiple past incidents of Mr. Scalfari’s inaccurate reporting on conversations with the Holy Father, and Pope Francis’ teaching elsewhere affirming the doctrine of hell, it seems unlikely that Pope Francis said something substantially different to Mr. Scalfari from what the Church teaches. In other words, it is unlikely Pope Francis affirmed annihilationism. But the Vatican statement doesn’t pursue the matter. It should have spelled things out.

6. There is the issue of whether Mr. Scalfari should have been permitted to discuss substantial issues with Pope Francis without the clear indication that any comments in this “non-interview,” personal conversation were “off the record” and “not for publication.” It’s one thing for the Holy Father to engage in a private dialogue with someone; it’s another thing to do so when the person in question publicizes the content of the dialogue or what he takes to be its content. Given Mr. Scalfari’s track record and note-free method of recounting conversations or interviews, it’s hard to understand why the conversation occurred as it did. The decision to allow the conversation seems imprudent, at best; the resulting controversy, predictable and avoidable. If there are reasons to think otherwise, they haven’t been communicated.

7. There is the distinction between a bad thing in itself and good that can be brought from it. Misrepresenting Pope Francis’ teaching (and the Catholic Church’s teaching, which is also Jesus’ teaching) is a bad thing in itself. It should not happen. I know from personal experience that many people have been confused and even misled by Scalfari’s reporting on this important topic. At the same time, some folks have pointed to the silver lining of the Church and others now being in a position to explain the truth about hell and how media so often get it wrong when it comes to reporting on Catholic teaching. That is all true enough. But it says nothing about the prudence of the conversation in the first place, nor about the damage done to those who don’t happen to come across the rebuttal explanation. God can bring good out of bad situations, but this doesn’t mean we should set about creating bad situations in order for God to bring about good out of them.

Let’s hope the lesson regarding Mr Scalfari has finally been learned so we don’t see further international headlines recounting this or that alleged contradiction by Pope Francis of some basic Christian tenet. It’s commendable that the Holy Father talks with Scalfari. Surely, though, there is a way he can do so without the resulting misinformation we have thus far seen. After all, more souls than Mr. Scalfari’s soul are at stake.

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About Mark Brumley 64 Articles
Mark Brumley is president and CEO of Ignatius Press.


  1. I must state respectfully that the author of this article is willfully deluded. It is an objective fact that Pope Bergoglio has refused to deny and condemn the heretical belief on Hell attributed to him by Scalfari. What Catholic accused in public of such a monstrous lie would hesitate even an instant in doing so, much more so the Pope himself. It is also an objective fact the the Vatican has refused to deny the material accuracy of the Pope’s statement, confining itself only to denying the lack of a formal quotation of the words the Pope used. Finally, it is an objective fact that this is the second time that Scalfari has attributed this heretical position to the Pope, again without denial by the Pope in the earlier interview. Finally, it is objective fact that Pope Bergoglio has asserted this heretical position previously in written statements that the author omits from his article. There are other articles on the internet that deal with this whole debacle in detail. As a useful correction of this article, I would suggest reading the following article by Chris Ferrara:

    • Make your yes mean yes and your no mean no. Anything else is of the fallen one. Matthews 5:37. Confusion is from the devil. The pope is the Shepard which is to guide his sheep. There is right and wrong. Since the pope has been in office all we hear is confusion and he has scattered his sheep. It is the pope call to speak clearly and lead the sheep which jesus calls us all to do. Who am i to judge? Pope perhaps the question is you are NOT so much as judging a person. U r judging the morality of society that has fallen into the abyss. You pope are called to lead and u have failed to lead according to scripture. You pope are a false prophet that we were warned about. This anti pope immediately has to be removed. All catholics need to rise up and remove the pope and the corrupt cardinals and bishops that put him into power . St michael the archangel I call upon you to clean up the house of God in Christ’s name amen.

    • I would ask, does AL not ‘magisterially’ make this position openly, ” ‘no one is condemned [to hell] forever, because the logic of the Gospel’…is that, after the final Judgement, ‘[hell and] the souls [of hell] simply disappear’ “….? So there is a false hell belief but not the Lord’s and His People’s Gospel Hell Revelation…??

      • Your addition of “[to hell]” is grossly misleading, to put it nicely. Anyone with a basic knowledge of, well, Catholic theology and the English language recognizes that AL 297 is not talking about eternal judgement or condemnation. Rather, it is saying that in this life, there is no situation (“various situations of weakness or imperfection”, 296) that cannot be resolved and made right if proper steps are taken. It has nothing to do with eternal judgment. Now, having been very critical of AL, especially chapter 8, I still have issues with the passage in question. But the fact that it now taken for granted, in certain echo chambers, that this passage is about hell, is absolutely ridiculous, even laughable.

        • Carl, the difficulty with your interpretation of AL 297, is that is speaks specifically of condemnation. When has the Church ever taught that it “condemns” anyone “forever”? The Church does teach on mortal sin and the need to confess and amend one’s life in order the fully participate in the life of the Church. But “condemnation” and one that last “forever”? I’m no expert but I doubt if the concept of “condemnation forever” has ever been understood by the Church outside of considerations of God’s final judgement. Thus, those who interpret the language in question in AL 297 to reference Hell, can hardly be said to be “grossly misleading” as you put it, even if at some technical level they may be incorrect.

          • Suggest that both you and the Pontiff consult Scripture and the Catechism.

            IV. Hell

            1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: “He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”610 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.611 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”

            1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.612 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”613 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”614

            1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its 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.”615 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.

            1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion:

            “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”616

          • Agreed!
            “Rather, it is saying that in this life, there is no situation (“various situations of weakness or imperfection”, 296) that cannot be resolved and made right if proper steps are taken.”
            This is a real stretch. The term “condemned” for Catholics has only one meaning.

        • Kind of agree with Chris C. I think the sentence and it’s choice of words like “forever” are a slip of the tongue or mind and are out of kilter with the practical on earth D/R et al sinner context since the clergy and Church never condemn to hell or to formal guilt but only to material guilt…even in ex communication. They can retain material mortal sin but still pass no judgement on a soul’s destination.
          I think Francis was speaking about living sinners yes but simultaneously slipping half consciously into a private eschatology with a slip of the tongue that stains a Church document. His silence after these offending interviews support that.
          His position on Judas supports that wherein he prefers a statue’s catechesis to all of Christ’s consistently dire words on Judas…not to mention Acts which says Judas “fell away to go to his own place”…a lonely connotation out of place with eventual heaven.

        • Others have made the point quite clearly, but I’ll try to boil it down to its essence: when do we ever talk about condemnation except in relation to hell? Especially when the temporal context is FOREVER?

        • Carl I agree with you which why you are a principled critic of the Pope and not an extremist.

          People who dogmatically insist AL 297 is talking about Hell are actually doing the work of Hell because
          their extremist and false attacks on the Pope gets lumped in with your principled criticisms.

          Like I said I am NOT having it.


    • Mr. Ferrara has long appointed himself the judge of the popes, who are generally found wanting. His opinion is tainted with that spiritual jaundice that St. Francis de Sales warned against in his Introduction to the Devout Life. As such, it is less helpful than Mr. Brumley’s article, which treated everyone involved with charity and a lack of rash judgment, while at the same time calling out the actions involved as problematical and preventable. This is a balanced take. As for the other, caveat emptor; to paraphrase an old saying, We risk becoming what we consume, and that includes reading.

      • Being “balanced” is the most superficial of values.

        Truth is what really matters.

        If Ferrara has found much to criticize in a string of Popes, perhaps the problem is not jaundice in Ferrara, but flaws in those Popes, who just happen to have presided over an unprecedented dissolution of the Church.

      • One can judge popes.
        Chris Ferrara is a better representative of the gift of Faith than Bergoglio.
        We all have a right to give witness.

      • Ferrara has never met a Pope he liked. If the head of the SSPX somehow was made Pope then I believe Ferrara would still find a way to complain or die like a Greek women because he can’t complain.

    • Pope Francis already explicitly denied doctrine on hell in Amoris Laetitia by writing that “nobody can be condemned forever” while Jesus said “many” go to hell.

      The Scalfari interview only exhibits Bergoglios manifest persistence in the heresy written in Amoris Laetitia.

      But nobody really cares anymore. I’m not even sure why publications like CWR even exist if they are going to merely spin the Popes heretical words to attempt to make it look like a mistake or merely an allegation.

      Jesus became flesh, suffered, and was murdered in order to, in part, give us words that He demanded be preserved forever.

      Pope Francis and many US bishops and priests are changing the meaning of Jesus’ words, yet only a few care. Those few must be the one who end up in heaven, while the many frauds end up in hell.

      • I have observed in my 86 years the tendency of some Catholics is to gradually become agnostic regarding spiritual questions, and I suspect this is the agenda of Popes and Priests.

      • Max you are worst then CNN on Trump.

        Quote”It is a matter of reaching out to everyone,
        of needing to help each person find his or her
        proper way of participating in the ecclesial community

        and thus to experience being touched by
        an “unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous”
        mercy. No one can be condemned for ever, because
        that is not the logic of the Gospel!
        . Here
        I am not speaking only of the divorced and remarried,
        but of everyone, in whatever situation
        they find themselves. Naturally, if someone
        flaunts an objective sin as if it were part of the
        Christian ideal, or wants to impose something
        other than what the Church teaches, he or she
        can in no way presume to teach or preach to
        others; this is a case of something which separates
        from the community
        (cf. Mt 18:17). “END

        Yeh given the context I don’t see how you get universalism out of that? It seems to be talking about visible
        membership in the earthly church and participation in the community not one of the Last Things.

        People who slander the Pope give service to the Devil & do the work of Hell. If Pope Francis is destined to burn in he unmentionalble place for all his sins people who run around slandering are in danger of burning with him. Also the work of focused and fair critics of the Pope is undermined by persons who tell easily disprovable falsehoods about him. So Cardinal Burke or anybody who wants to point out why it is stupid for the Pope to continue to talk to Scalfari get lumped in with fanatics who are out to smear the Holy Father. I’m NOT having it.

  2. “Let’s hope the lesson regarding Mr. Scalfari has finally been learned so we don’t see further international headlines recounting this or that alleged contradiction by Pope Francis of some basic Christian tenet.”

    The lesson has been learned by whom? Francis is the one who keeps going back to this guy. What exactly does the author make of that?

    And, for Mr. Brumley’s edification, this statement as part of Francis’ authentic magisterium from AL 297: “No one can be condemned forever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel! Here I am not speaking only of the divorced and remarried, but of everyone.”

    That’s from Amoris Laetitia. Can’t blame that one on Scalfari.

    If it looks like a duck…

  3. What Bergoglio said to Scalfari on this particular occasion is irrelevant. What is relevant is what Scalfari has published in the past, repeatedly, and the fact that Bergoglio obviously approves of it. There will be more such interviews in the future, with more heresy reported, with more plausible deniability, but no real denial. And that’s how Bergoglio moves the ball down the field.

  4. For a man of his age and a man in his position, this pope has spoken carelessly time and time again.
    He lacks precision in thought and speech and he does not seem to care about the consequences. But this is old news.
    A true leader and defender of Faith and flock would have clarified this “misunderstanding” in very short order. The faithful here nothing said in contradiction to Mr Scalfari. The pope is not moved that his flock has every right to be uncomfortable and unhappy with the mess he made.
    I believe Mr Scalfari heard what the pope said, correctly. Silence is consent.
    The author’s theological gymnastics are intellectually stimulating but solve nothing.

  5. Bergoglio has a distorted view of “mercy.” He replaces the genuine mercy of Christ, which saved the very life of the woman caught in adultery, yet included the admonition “Go, and sin no more,” with a defective mercy that leaves out that admonition and instead accompanies the sinner all the way to Hell. That is okay, of course, because there really is no Hell.

    Bergoglio’s disbelief of the reality of Hell helps one understand his badly deformed view of mercy.

  6. It’s rather naive to think that the Pontiff will in the future stop putting himself in situations where he ends up with both of his feet in his mouth. Based on his track record, most of us know what to expect and I seriously doubt that we will end up being surprised. It would be uncharacteristic of him to unambiguously and unequivocally affirm the teaching of the Church. Pray for his conversion but don’t expect it.

    • As there was no “reply” link to your earlier comment in response to mine, I’ll have to answer that post here.

      I’m not clear where you’re coming from or why you think or implied that I was unaware of the clear teachings of our faith on the existence of Hell. My point as I thought was clear, was that the term “condemnation forever” which appears in AL 297, has never been understood by the Church apart from considerations of God’s Judgement. Hence when some state that the “condemnation forever” spoken of in AL 297 refers not to Hell and eternal judgement but something else such as denial of the sacraments for those in a state of sin, they are incorrect. Hope that clarifies things.

  7. Many of us including myself have strong convictions in respect to the Pontiff’s intent that may well be true yet not irrefutable. For example AL 297 addresses D&R in which the Pope questions whether they must remain permanently in a state of mortal sin or should the Church forgive the sin if repentant. Insofar as Scalfari there is no irrefutable evidence that the Pontiff denied Hell except for the words of an elderly atheist. Although silence may indicate guilt silence does not convict. That is why eminent canon lawyers Cardinal Burke and Fr Weinandy do not accuse the Pontiff of heresy. Otherwise Christ would have been justifiably condemned by the Sanhedrin. Perhaps the best approach to this quandary is that of canon lawyer Edward Peters who opined the Pontiff may be indictable on the preponderance of ambiguity due to wording and silence on moral issues and its effect. For a person to be convicted under the law as a heretic he must be adamant and persistent in stating a heresy. There is no evidence of that kind on any issue. There is however moral certitude [as distinct from reasonable certitude based on incontrovertible evidence] of intent due to the preponderance of misleading statements evasive responses and silence. The quandary it seems if the Pontiff who has strong support remains in Office and doesn’t make corrections may only be resolved by divine intervention. If that’s the case I hope soon.

    • This is the second time Bergoglio has propagated through Scalfari his disbelief of the reality of Hell, and then refused to aggressively clarify the matter.

      This is an intentional tactic, not an accident of his personality. As I mentioned in a previous post, his disbelief of the reality of Hell also explains his distorted idea of Christian mercy.

      It is time to look again at the legitimacy of his election — for the good of the Church.

    • “For example AL 297 addresses D&R in which the Pope questions whether they must remain permanently in a state of mortal sin or should the Church forgive the sin if repentant.”

      AL 297 (emphasis mine): “No one can be condemned forever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel! Here I am not speaking only of the divorced and remarried, but of everyone.

      • Of course Liuzza it’s misleading if you remove it from context. That last phrase in context refers to all living in an objective state of serious sin. Perhaps gays, those in a civil marriage, cohabitation. Certainly I don’t agree with him. Nonetheless it is not a definitive denial of an eternal hell.

        • Post-synodal apostolic exhortations are not typically used to make definitive statements of Church teaching. So Bergoglio hasn’t officially taught error. The Holy Spirit doesn’t let that happen. So if Bergoglio finally steps over the line he continually dances so close to, he will only be proving his election was not legitimate and that he is an antipope.

        • It may not be “definitive,” Father, but it’s fairly straightforward (and damning) nevertheless.

          That someone could be “condemned forever” is precisely the logic of the Gospel, not to mention the express words of Jesus.

          Then again, Jesus is only the Son of God. What does he know? Not nearly as much as Francis the Merciful.

          Honestly, Father, why at this late hour of Francis’s disastrous papacy, do you and the others still strain so hard to deny the undeniable and defend the indefensible?

          • Actually Gerard my purpose is not to mitigate the grave damage to the Church and salvation of souls that are the effect of this Pontiff’s intentional ambiguity and misleading statements. He is apparently using the Scalfari interviews to disseminate his ‘revolutionary’ vision of the Church’s New Paradigm. My expressed purpose is twofold. It is to confirm nothing that he has said is definitive. And thus not Magisterial doctrine. God will not permit it. The Chair of Peter is preserved from error not the person who occupies it.

      • Excellent point.

        So Christ, when He says He will announce to the goats on His left hand “Depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” didn’t know what He was talking about, and Bergoglio is now going to straighten things out for Him.

        So Christ and twenty centuries of teaching the Holy Spirit has preserved in the Church is wrong and Bergoglio is right?

        The arrogance!

    • Absolutely.

      Cardinals now have enough evidence – on multiple issues – not just of heresy but of pertinacity (stubborn non-retraction).

      This means that, tomorrow, a few cardinals can, under church law, say simply, “pertinacity is firmly manifest and Jorge Bergoglio has lost the chair by automatic metaphysical realities.”

      Then they chose a new pope before the end of this month while Bergoglio lives.
      Then they must not blink and hold the line while Bergoglio refuses to step down – but he will another month after because the People of God have charismatic gifts to support the true pope.

  8. If only Pope Francis and the Vatican would work as hard as Mr. Brumley to clear up this “misunderstanding.”

    • Lol….very true. The position is Pope. One would think Catholicism has about several thousand more precise, more prudent, more orthodox careful, more gravitas laden papabile to have chosen from …to fill this job title. He is some kind of punitive lesson from the permissive willing of God.

    • Yes. Mark summed it up well. It is imprudent at best and scandalous at worst for him to speak further with this “journalist.”

  9. The fundamental point is that Pope Francis cannot be trusted in matters of Church doctrine. A Pope who compromises in moral issues will not hesitate to do the same in doctrinal issues.

  10. Bergoglio and Scalfari have an agreement. Bergoglio pushes confusion, Scalfari pushes atheism. And the devil pushes them both.

  11. In an article dated March 24, 2015, reports that: “… Scalfari has the pope denying hell. The article says: ‘What happens to that lost soul? Will it be punished? And how? The response of Francis is distinct and clear: there is no punishment, but the annihilation of that soul. All the others will participate in the beatitude of living in the presence of the Father. The souls that are annihilated will not take part in that banquet; with the death of the body their journey is finished.’”

    If Scalfari misrepresented the Pope’s comments in 2015, why on earth would the Pope grant an interview in 2018 to Scalfari only to have Scalfari turn around and repeat the same allegedly erroneous narrative? What on earth is going on here?

  12. I believe that Pope Francis said to Scalfari what Scalfari says Pope Francis said and, further, that Pope Francis intended Scalfari to publish the statement. If Pope Francis (a) in fact said nothing about hell, or (b) recited Catholic teaching about the reality of hell, he would be outraged at what Scalfari said and the Vatican statement would not be so non-committal about whether Scalfari made any material misrepresentation. So I have no doubt that Scalfari’s statement is not materially inaccurate. If Pope Francis in fact said what Scalfari says Pope Francis said, there can be no doubt that Pope Francis knew, before saying it, that Scalfari would publish it. One thing that Pope Francis isn’t is naïve.

    So all I can conclude, rationally, is that Pope Francis disagrees with the Church’s teaching concerning hell and knowing that he cannot overtly deny the teaching is seeking to undermine it by sowing doubt about it through means that allow him plausible deniability.

    • Your take on this is rational…very rational and succinct. It helps me because I keep seeing him as spacey…and that might be a furtive way of excusing him as though he is an imbecile. You are saying he is more intentional…than a person who is chaotic of mind. Bottom line….I don’t think any of us would leave children with him for an hour for instruction on heaven and hell…and yet he’s Pope. None of us would have left daughters with Pope Alexander VI in 1494 for an hour…and yet he was Pope. We need a better theology of deficient Pope periods. I had 16 years of Catholic school. I don’t remember having one hour on the topic….and 8 of those years were Jesuit.

  13. Imagine the chaos that would result if the SAT Reading Test had “brief passages” from “Amoris Laetitia” followed by the usual challenge to pick which statement below best expresses the meaning of the passage.

  14. “Pope Francis has taught the reality of hell, understood as a *permanent state of existence*. He has. Repeatedly.”

    As I re-read this, I can’t help but think citations would be helpful. Also, how can Hell be permanent state if we are hoping no one even goes there? Really, it all doesn’t especially add up. Given the fact the only denial is that the recollections should not be considered exact quotes. And the pope obviously does not care enough to clear up the confusion himself. Doctrinal teaching is HIS responsibility, and here we are. I for one have decided either Francis suffers from Third World cultural blindness to America, or he is willfully trying to nudge centuries of doctrine leftward. I hopeful the former, but it’s anyone’s call. This papacy cannot end soon enough.There are good popes and bad popes. From American shores, Francis seems like a bad pope.

  15. Pope Francis epitomizes the Sermon on the Mount, which is the essence of Christianity. May Francis have a long Papacy!

    • Actually Ray….Christ said to Satan in the desert that man does not live by bread alone but by
      ” every word that comes forth from the mouth of God”. Not some words…every word that God sent. That means the tens of thousands of words that are outside the sermon of the mount. That of course includes so many verses on punishment, several on the death penalty for us gentiles, many death penalties for the old covenant Jews only, Christ saying of hell…” where the worm dies not and the fire is not quenched”.
      Read the entire Bible ,Ray, in other words and Aquinas will tell you what is void from the OT….the judicial laws and the ritual laws and the Sinai covenant blessings and punishments etc.
      So if you think Christ who quoted the Bible well outside the beatitudes would agree with you and your abridged version….that it suffices….no….Christ wants you to read the whole thing in time. People read 400 page novels….many…..but the whole Bible…no.

    • It seems to me you did not read the full text of the Sermon on the Mount. Might be a good idea to get fully acquainted with it.

  16. “Let’s hope…”
    How long has the author been observing this catastrophe?
    Wishful thinking will not bring an end to this most devastating event in the history of the Church. A pope hell bent on the deconstruction of Roman Catholicism and replacing it with a contrived cult — The New Paradigm.
    Everyone need shed the rose colored shades.
    Wishful thinking is not going to provide an adequate rationale for this demonstration of “odium fidei” on the Chair of Saint Peter.
    How long do we have to endure “sixties priests” before we call it for what it is? What exactly compels us to embrace the level of denial required to keep this individual in a position of power and privilege which he boldly abuses?
    No more deference to deception.

  17. If the fact that we are debating whether or not the pope believes in hell does not send chills down the spine… does not convince someone that there is something seriously wrong with the church then there’s no point in talking further.

  18. Given Scalfari’s trwck record it is not “commendable” in the least that Pope Francis continues to agree to interview requests from this manipulative atheist reporter.

    The Successor to Peter should not be the source of confusion, something Francis has in fact been since he was first elected.

    Francis’ insistance on “making a mess” has resulted in repeated instances of confusion, and concern for the content of our faith is at an all time high among devout Catholics.

    If Francis continues to spread confusion and to teach, or at least hint at teaching heresy and error, the College of Cardinals should consider either removing him from office or allowing him to save face by resigning.

  19. With all due respect, Mark Brumley, you are basing your entire argument on speculation, and you lay blame on Scalfari and the media in general, when the confusion is to be blamed on (1) the pope and (2) the Vatican’s sloppy response. Your point #5, in particular, makes that perfectly clear: “…Although the Vatican’s statement implicitly warns against relying on the Scalfari account, it doesn’t state what, in fact, Pope Francis said to Scalfari.” It matters not what it “seems” to you or any of us what the pope “might” have said. He and his handlers missed the short window of opportunity to nip this in the bud by EXPLICITLY refuting Scalfari’s report with the pope’s affirmation of Church doctrine on the existence of hell. That this did not take place is telling beyond words. Instead, and as usual under this pope, the faithful laity is left to clean up the mess without support of the hierarchy. I can give you personal examples of how this plays out at the parish level. Lord have mercy.

  20. There is little doubt in my mind after 5 years of these Pope Francis “tragedies” wherein he misleads by ambiguity, lack of clarification and his frequent use of his clerical supporters to really state what the Pope thinks. Pretty clear when his advisers are folks like Kasper, Parolin, Vigano, Sorando, etc. Isn’t it telling when he does not speak a word of correction re the German bishops outrageous and heretical statements?

  21. With all the chaos around us regarding Pope’s supposed statement on hell, Bible, Lord’s prayer and Lucifer why not the Vatican publish an OFFICIAL STATEMENT ON THESE TOPICS? Many million souls could be at rest if authentic declaration from the holy see appears in all international media.

  22. “1. There is the issue of whether in general Pope Francis has taught the reality of hell, understood as a permanent state of existence. He has. Repeatedly…..”

    Carl – I know I am very late to this discussion (article originally published over a year ago) but, can you point me to any specific instances of the above (i.e., where Pope Francis has unambiguously stated that hell is real and that damned souls will spend eternity there? It would be very helpful. Thank you.

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