I’d like to take a break from the news to wish you and your family a happy and blessed Good Friday, Passover and Easter. In fact, I’d love to take a break from the news to do that, but the “news” just keeps intruding on religious faith.
The latest firestorm is over a claim in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that Pope Francis told the atheist semi-retired publisher of the paper, who is a friend, that there is no Hell. As if to disprove the premise, the paper now has Hell to pay for running that dubious story.
According to the newspaper, the Pope told the publisher that “good souls are admitted to the contemplation of God,” but bad souls “are not punished, those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and enter the rank of souls who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot therefore be forgiven, disappear. There is no Hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls.” Of course, this directly contradicts 2,000 years of Christian and Catholic doctrine, previous quotes from the Pope warning sinners how to avoid Hell, and multiple quotes in the Bible, including quotes from Jesus Himself (see the linked story).
Frankly, I trust the accuracy of the quotes in the Book of Matthew more than those in La Repubblica. Particularly since the Vatican strongly denied the story, noting that while the Pope had a private meeting with the publisher, there was no interview. The Pope just wanted to wish him a happy Easter (which, if he didn’t believe in the fate that Christ died to save us from, would be pointless.) The publisher, who is 93, took no notes and later wrote the story from memory (the Vatican called it “the fruits of his reconstruction”) without any direct quotes from the Pope.
It’s sad that such a story should arise during the most joyous week of the Christian calendar, celebrating the Resurrection of Christ and the fulfillment of His promise to die for our sins and assure those who accept Him of everlasting life. On the other hand, after years of attempts to secularize and commercialize Easter, to make it about nothing but bunnies and candy eggs, somehow the fuzzy memory of an atheist publisher and the shocking claims that the Pope doesn’t believe in Hell have converged to result in reporters being forced to scour the Bible for quotes warning us of the reality of Hell and to distribute them far and wide as part of their coverage. And just in time for Good Friday.
Here’s another quote for you that I guarantee is accurate: “God works in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.” – William Cowpers
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