Friday, March 20, 2015

Pope: There Is No Hell

He had the right idea

Oh my God, not again.


Did he really say that?


It's another piece by Eugenio Scalfari, the atheist journalist, who in a number of "conversations" with Pope Francis, has alleged various Pope whoppers including the now famous, "Proselytism is solemn nonsense." In past cases, ardent Pope defenders have argued that Scalfari is an anti-Catholic propagandist and is not publishing word for word quotes in a formal interview but, rather, later reconstructions of a conversation, and thus there might be as much Scalfari wish fulfillment in some of the statements as actual truth claims.

For the first interview over a year ago, the Vatican website put it up then took it down, supposedly verifying the above point of view. Yet neither the Pope himself, nor Vatican spokesmen have ever denied any of the statements. And of course the Pope continues to have these conversations with his "friend". Many Pope watchers who haven't drunk the One Should Go Through Any Contortion Physically Possible to Defend this Man Kool-Aid, have concluded that this is simply how the Pope chooses to communicate. These are quasi-heretical statements after all (for the above, not even quasi) and thus he has to preserve a certain plausible deniability. It's a clever strategy for planting seeds of doubt about the Faith without blowing it by being too obvious.

Planting seeds of doubt about the Faith? Yes, that's what I just said. If you haven't drunk the Kool-Aid and haven't been living on Mars, that's exactly what this Pope is doing. Well, and I forgot to to add, if you want to be honest with yourself and face up to what's happening, however depressing or shocking that may be.

On to the Scalfari piece. It's an editorial reflection in La Repubblica on what the journalist wants to see happen in the Church, so it's not a new interview, per se. But he includes a part where he describes the Pope's thoughts on the issue. Here is the relevant passage:
[...] Whoever has had the grace to meet Pope Francis knows that the egoism of the most dangerous enemy of our species. The animal is selfish because it is only guided by his instincts, the most important thing is their own survival. Man is also driven by socializing and he therefore feels love towards the other, in addition to the survival of the species to which he belongs. If egoism wins the upper hand and the love for others is suffocated, it darkens the divine spark which is in him and condemns himself. 
What happens to these extinct souls? Will they be punished? And how? 
Francis' answer is unambiguous and clear: There is no penalty but the annihilation of that soul. All others live on to share the the happiness in the presence of the Father. The extinguished souls have no part in this feast, with the death of the body is its end and this is the motivation of the missionary Church: to save the lost. This is also the reason why Francis is through and through, a Jesuit. [...]
This theological view is called Annihilationism, by the way, and it is the view of some sincere Protestant Christians. In fairness, it has some Biblical support (though I think the weight of Biblical evidence is strongly against it.) But it has never been a teaching of the Catholic Church. Indeed, it is a clear heresy. The current Catechism of the Church states:
(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." (Matthew 25:41) 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 Scalfari editorial came out a few days ago, in Italian of course. And as far as I can tell, it hasn't been picked up by many of the Traditionalist blogs, let alone any mainstream sources. We picked it up from The Eponymous Flower through Pew Sitter. Once again, it is vulnerable to the criticism that there's no proof Pope Francis actually said it. And once again, the usual suspects, many of them well-intentioned, will say that caution is urged. We should be careful when inputing heresy (at second-hand, from an atheist) to the Vicar of St. Peter. And so on and so forth, etc. etc.


We have a bad one here guys, a real bad one. A Dig Up the Body of Your Papal Predecessor, Put His Corpse On Trial, Convict him and Then Throw It Into The Tiber, honest to goodness Bad Pope.

What to do?

Pray, obviously. But beyond that, I guess I would say, stop defending this man. Stop making excuses. Don't be afraid of the truth. Or rather, I am afraid of the truth, but I'm more afraid of it if it remains hidden. I didn't think we would get someone like this either. But we did.

And it's going to get worse.


  1. But no confessional Protestant denomination holds teaches their is no hell, even the liberal churches retain it in their confessions and catechisms. You could just have easily said some sincere Roman Catholics hold to it (which is kinda what is being alleged I guess).

  2. I trust you on this, Hugh. I guess I thought that among some Protestants or Protestant denominations it was an officially okay thing to believe--in other words, you can say that Hell MEANS annihilation, etc. I'm thinking about a book I have where two Protestant theologians debate the question, edited by Fudge I think. Do you know it? But maybe the Annihilationism guy was a known dissident from official teachings. I don't remember who it was and the book is in storage. I might have been too tough on the Biblical evidence. I think you can make a reasonable argument for Annihilationism based solely on the Scriptural sources. And of course, it's something many of want to believe.

  3. Yes. Here is what it looks like in the Protestant-Evangelical context:

  4. you might reconsider quoting the CCC. Really. Just read #841.

    1. I know. That it's in the Catechism doesn't make it true. But most Catholic truths regarding faith or morals are in the Catechism. The Hell thing is in there because it's been the consistent teaching of the Church since its founding.

  5. Most certainly we have a bad one.
    Ancient Israel and Judah also had some bad ones (e.g. King Amon and King Manesseh}. But the Temple remained in Jerusalem.
    The challenge is to keep the unity of the Catholic Church through the tough times that are ahead of us. We surely need plenty of prayers.

  6. First, I remind you of what Hilary White and Matt Landry said about this blog entry of yours on your Facebook page (which I happened to stumble across right after I first encountered this blog entry). Having done so, you seem to forget that it's basic Christian charity to refrain from rash judgment and not to automatically assume the worst of someone -- including the pope. There have been many times when the pope could have been more clear; however, insinuating that he's a heretic or at least heterodox really crosses the line.

    Here's what the Catechism of the Catholic Church as to say about it:

    2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury (277). He becomes guilty:
    - of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
    - of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
    - of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

    2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

    Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. and if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved. [Attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 22 in footnotes]

    And St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa, elaborates:

    Now there are three degrees of suspicion. The first degree is when a man begins to doubt of another's goodness from slight indications. This is a venial and a light sin; for "it belongs to human temptation without which no man can go through this life," according to a gloss on 1 Corinthians 4:5, "Judge not before the time." The second degree is when a man, from slight indications, esteems another man's wickedness as certain. THIS IS A MORTAL SIN (emphasis added), if it be about a grave matter, since it cannot be without contempt of one's neighbor. Hence the same gloss goes on to say: "If then we cannot avoid suspicions, because we are human, we must nevertheless restrain our judgment, and refrain from forming a definite and fixed opinion." The third degree is when a judge goes so far as to condemn a man on suspicion: this pertains directly to injustice, and is consequently a mortal sin.

    So to claim without sufficient proof (and Matt Landry and Hilary White both told you that your citation of Eugenio Scalfari doesn't constitute sufficient proof) that Pope Francis is a heretic, heterodox,or trying to destroy the Church is to commit an objectively mortal sin.

    1. So, you just spent multiple paragraphs saying how Christians should never make rash judgments about other people's moral character, and should always make the most charitable assumption about people's motivations and intentions, etc. etc. and so on and so forth. And then you concluded of someone you had never met nor had any sort of exchange with, and after having read one and only one blog post by that person that he had committed an objectively mortal sin. Give me a break.

      Sure it's a sin to judge others rashly. But frankly we're well past that point with Pope Francis. It's also a sin to refuse to make judgments at all, especially about things that are directly harming the Church and thus harming particular Christians, out of a misplaced pride or attitude of being "more charitable than thou." And of course, the Pope defenders (including you I'm afraid) are only charitable, if you can even call it that, with the person of the Pope. Against others they are often quite vicious.

      So, sorry, but while I've certainly committed my share of mortal sins, I don't think I committed any in that blog post. Are you going to call me a liar now?

    2. Whoa . . . I haven't made any rash judgments about your character; your accusations turns right around on you. I never said you were actually guilty of mortal sin; in quoting St. Thomas Aquinas I said that to assume someone's wickedness without sufficient evidence (even if it's not actually discussed with others) is an objectively mortal sin. Note that I said OBJECTIVELY -- subjectively speaking, I can't know the state of your soul. But someone is doing something that is objectively gravely wrong, it would be silly not to give fraternal correction simply because you can't know how personally culpable they were. One of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to admonish the sinner, is it not?

      So let me get this straight -- you dare to call me out for supposedly making rash judgments against someone, namely yourself, whom I don't know and with whom I've never had any exchange, and then you turn around and do the same thing to someone you don't even know, namely myself, claiming people like myself are supposedly "quite vicious" against those who aren't the pope?! How hypocritical can one get?! How can you possibly know how "vicious" I supposedly am to others? While I don't claim to have completely mastered the art of Christian charity, I'll have you know that I strive with God's grace to be charitable to others, although I at times fall short.

    3. Don't blame me. I was only doing fraternal correction.

    4. Dear Militia Immaculata, have you seen the video of Pope Francis meeting with the group of protestant preachers (brother bishops, he calls them) during which he says "for me to say this is a theological disaster, but...." then goes on to expound heresy? Gee, I wish this weren't happening, but it is. We don't need these insane Scalfari interviews to see it. By the way, it is Francis who initiated and reached out to Scalfari for the scandalous interviews, and he does it again and again. Stupidity, or evil? You choose. Neither choice is very good. In the video where the pope proudly proclaims heresy, you can read the pope's lips. He is saying that he knows it is not catholic doctrine, but...., then proceeds to utter heresy. The other day, he said to a large crowd, "we will all be in heaven together, all of us, all of us.". There are so many examples of this man proclaiming ideas destructive or counter to the faith, it is dizzying. Look at the heretics which he hand-picks to surround him. Seriously, it is not charitable at all to allow a pope to be a heretic and to lead the flock over a cliff. Let us pray earnestly for a very quick end to his reign, or at least for his conversion to the catholic faith.

  7. I agree with you on this; that it is going to get worse. There's no shades of grey between what is right and what is wrong.
    He is acknowledging those shades of grey.
    Many have pointed out the way he personally changed before he was elected pope and now as a pope.

  8. Have you ever read "Là-bas" by J.K. Huysmans ?

    It seems to be from the point of view of a faithful and traditional Roman Catholic who is dismayed by the apostasy of his day as he considers the reality and power of Evil.

    1. Hey, Andrew. I emailed you at the address I have for you but it looks like you didn't get it. Email me at Cheers!