Saturday, June 20, 2015

Pope to Humanity: Go to Hell

Don't worry your pretty little head about it

I was going to write a lengthy and reasoned piece on the encyclical, titled (provisionally) "20 Things Wrong With Laudato Si." And I was going to include the following theological topic as one of those twenty things. But then it became clear to me that it would be inappropriate and unseemly to include the Pope's apparent denial of the existence of hell on the same list as his misunderstanding of carbon credits or his ignorance of public choice theory or whatever.

A few months ago, the Pope gave an interview where he allegedly denied the existence of hell in favor of annihilationism. This was dismissed (or ignored) by the usual suspects as unverified or hearsay, etc. However, a few days ago the Pope implicitly denied the existence of hell in a papal encyclical. Not only that, but he seemed to, this time, move beyond annihilationism to universalism.

A few traditionalist commentators pointed this out (here and here, among other places), but on the main the issue has not been discussed by many. I find this odd. Or perhaps it's not. The Pope's un-Catholic theology is a bit like Bill Clinton's women problem. It's so obvious and so pervasive that most people eventually end up wanting to ignore it. It's old news. Move on.

Yeah. But he's the Pope. It matters.

Here are the relevant passages, not from some second-hand interview with Eugenio Scalfari, but from an actual, official, coat-of-arms-stamped papal encyclical:
83. The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things [there follows a footnote to Tielhard de Chardin, whose teaching and books were proscribed by the Church]...all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things. Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator. 
243. At the end, we will find ourselves face to face with the infinite beauty of God (cf. 1 Cor 13:12), and be able to read with admiration and happiness the mystery of the universe, which with us will share in unending plenitude. Even now we are journeying towards the sabbath of eternity, the new Jerusalem, towards our common home in heaven. Jesus says: “I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place and have something to give those poor men and women who will have been liberated once and for all.
Does Francis deny hell in these passages? Not quite. It's still just possible to read, say, the second passage as consistent with the Thomist scheme of exitus reditus--all things come from God and all things shall return to him--though for Aquinas, all "returning" does not mean that all will be saved. So, to make it consistent according to the encyclical, all of us are moving or "journeying" towards God. All of us are called to lead the animals to Him. But then the referent shifts and "we" now only refers to some of us, as in some of us "will share in unending plenitude." Then the referent of "we" moves back to all of us as in "we (all of us) are journeying towards the sabbath of eternity, the new Jerusalem, towards our common home in heaven." It is our common home, though not all of us will get there. Thus, the referent now moves back to some of us. The passage doesn't explicitly say that all of us will experience eternal life. It merely says, "Eternal life will be a shared experience." Thus, we read it as some of us will experience eternal life. "Each creature"--not each creature, as in every creature that exists but each creature, as in every creature that is in fact saved--will be "resplendently transfigured, (and) will take its rightful place." "Those poor men and women" does not refer to all poor men and women, but only to some of us poor men and women--the poor men and women who in fact end up being saved.

Of course that is not how anyone will read the passage.

Rather, the implication is unmistakable. We're all (according to Laudato Si) going towards God and heaven--leading the animals. And yes, that means every animal--not only our terriers, but rats and gnats and micro-organisms, etc. And we're all going to get there.

This is not Catholic teaching. And it is not Catholic teaching because it is not the teaching of Christ, from whom all Catholic teaching ultimately stems from, of course. Wherever the animals may be going (bless them), human beings are not all going to heaven. Some of us are going to hell. If all of us end up "face to face" with God, some of us will see His face for only a moment before we hear, "I do not know you," and we are cast down. Forever.

I don't like it either but it's true.

Or if we are Catholics, we believe it's true.

Is the Pope Catholic?

It's the Pope's job to get this message out. Not merely because it is true, but infinitely more importantly so that everyone is aware of it. Being aware if it is the first step to making sure that we each have the best chance of avoiding that most horrible of fates. If we aren't aware of it, there's a much greater chance we will go there.

Or so says the Catholic Church.

It's the Pope's job. It's his most important job. Sure a Pope can and should speak of other things. Pope Benedict XV tried to end World War I. That was laudable. Much more than laudable.

But no Pope, NO pope, has, prior to Francis, denied the premises of the Christian theory of salvation.

This Pope just did so. He did so only a few days ago.

I'm not here concerned with whether or not that's heretical or whether or not he's a heretic. He's one man, and he's responsible for his actions. Though, even so we should pray for him (at the least).

Rather, here I'm worried about those other 6,999,999,999 persons. Shouldn't I be? Shouldn't any Catholic be at long last? Doesn't the encyclical itself say that we should be?

The Pope wants to save humanity from carbon emissions. He doesn't (according to his words) want to save it from hell. Of course, he wouldn't put it that way. Rather, he doesn't believe in hell. Or if he does, he doesn't want to tell anyone about it.

The practical effect of that is the same.

Pope to humanity: Go to hell.


  1. Don't despair, there is a Counter-Encyclical...

  2. Francis is not the pope, but the Biblical False Prophet setting up the one-world pagan religion.

  3. He is the pope and 'we' have gotten the pope we deserve for the vast unfaithfulness of so many. Which saint was it that said the greatest punishment God can send on His people is bad clergy. We surely have had that...and all the way up the ladder in many cases.

    1. Saint John Eudes:
      "The most evident mark of God's anger, and the most terrible castigation He can inflict upon the world, is manifest when He permits His people to fall into the hands of a clergy who are more in name than in deed, priests who practice the cruelty of ravening wolves rather than the charity and affection of devoted shepherds. They abandon the things of God to devote themselves to the things of the world and, in their saintly calling of holiness, they spend their time in profane and worldly pursuits. When God permits such things, it is a very positive proof that He is thoroughly angry with His people and is visiting His most dreadful wrath upon them."

    2. St. Francis of Assisi prophecy in part:

      The time is fast approaching in which there will be great trials and afflictions; perplexities and dissensions, both spiritual and temporal, will abound; the charity of many will grow cold, and the malice of the wicked will increase.

      The devils will have unusual power, the immaculate purity of our Order, and of others, will be so much obscured that there will be very few Christians who will obey the true Sovereign Pontiff and the Roman Church with loyal hearts and perfect charity. At the time of this tribulation a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavour to draw many into error and death.

  4. Maybe you ought to check your facts before you start posting trash:

    1. CIB:

      The blogger here was not referring to that hoax, which cropped up in early 2014, but to yet another interview with Scalfari given a months ago, and which the Vatican has still not clarified or repudiated. If history is any indication, it will be included in an official Vatican edition, as were the other previous interviews.

      As for the message about the mafia, that's a red herring, since the blogger is discussing particular contents of the new encyclical, which is addressed to every person living on earth. Moreover, it's not even pro active, since the issue is what Franciscus means by "going to hell." Based on the EVIDENCE, it means, for him, that the damned souls are ultimately not annihilated. So, while he may thunder histrionics lily now and then about the mad ol' gangstas, his warning is apparently about being annihilated in hell, rather than suffering eternal punishment therein, as the Church actually teaches. So, if you'd like to address the blogger's actual analysis, please do. It being summer, I understand how soothing handwaving can be, but it doesn't really enrich the discussion.

    2. Oops, replying with an iPad while multitasking is still beyond me:

      "a FEW months ago"
      "not even PROBATIVE, since"
      "are ultimately annihilated. So"
      "thunder HISTRIONICALLY now and then"
      "BAD ol' gangstas"

    3. It looks like Codgitator just beat me to it. I had never heard of that hoax or parody or whatever it was. The relevant link in the above post was to a previous Mahound post, which in turn linked to the original interview with Eugenio Scalfari in La Repubblica.

  5. And here is Pope Francis warning the Mafia about hell:

    1. Again, I must echo Codgitator. The recent passage under discussion is the concluding and sort of triumphant theological paragraph of a 184 page encyclical. Any objective reader--Catholic, Christian or non-Christian--would have to conclude that the passage strongly appears to endorse universalism. That should be extremely troubling for any Catholic.Citing an address or homily from three months ago where the Pope mentioned the word "hell" is not a satisfactory response. With respect, is there any limit to this sort of inanity when covering for this man?

  6. I have already turned Pope Frankie's station off. He has nothing to tell or sell me since he is a South American socialist. If I were interested I could read Hugo Chavez's speeches to Venezuela. Not my first time at this rodeo and have waded through BS modern theology for many years.

  7. On the same vein as no hell, I attended a Lenten talk by a priest who roams around giving talks to parishes. On the third day he told us that mortal sin is no longer valid for "mature Catholics". Ho continued that all we need to do is to balance our actions up against our inner God. I was dumbfounded. Needless to say, the priest allowed no questions. My friend and I gave a donation but to insure that he made it out of town.

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