The Vatican has denied that Pope Francis told a well-known Italian journalist that “there is no hell”.
The quote came in an article in Italy’s La Repubblica daily. But the Vatican said “no quotations” in the article “should be considered as a faithful transcription” of the Pope’s words.
The Vatican said the article was based on a private meeting the Pope had with the daily’s founder, Eugenio Scalfari.
Catholic Church doctrine affirms the existence of hell and its eternity.
The souls of sinners descend into hell, where they suffer “eternal fire”, the Catholic catechism states.
However, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the most senior Catholic in England and Wales, said “there’s nowhere in Catholic teaching that actually says any one person is in hell”.
He told the BBC that the Pope was apparently exploring “the imagery of hell – fire and brimstone and all of that”.
“That’s never been part of Catholic teaching, it’s been part of Catholic iconography, part of Christian iconography,” he said.