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Scalfari Strikes Again

Hell is a hard doctrine. It can be one of the most difficult for Catholics to accept. The very thought of eternal torment is terrifying. Theologians over the years have tried to argue away the nightmares by saying that Hell is empty or a temporary punishment or a “state of mind.” If we are to believe Eugenio Scalfari, a 93-year-old Italian journalist, our present Pope has done them all one better: Francis has said that Hell doesn’t exist.

Scalfari is the founder of La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper. Its April 29 edition featured his account of a conversation he had with the 81-year-old Pontiff two days earlier in Casa Santa Marta where Francis lives. Scalfari, an atheist, is known for not taking notes and instead relying on memory when reconstructing conversations — a risky proposition for any journalist, much less a nonagenarian.

Scalfari begins his article by saying he has “the privilege” of being Francis’s “friend.” Their wide-ranging conversation eventually wound around to the topic of the afterlife. “The bad souls?” Scalfari asked. “Where are they punished?”

According to Scalfari, Francis responded, “They are not punished…. Those who do not repent, and cannot therefore be forgiven, disappear. Hell does not exist; the disappearance of the souls of sinners exists.”

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