Hell Is Very Hot Edition! (Your Catholic Week in Review)

Hell Is Very Hot Edition! (Your Catholic Week in Review)

Last week there was yet another dust-up over words attributed to Pope Francis, scandalizing millions of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world.  For whatever reason, Pope Francis met again with notorious atheist Eugenio Scalfari, who then wrote an article claiming that the pope told him:

“Evil souls do not go anywhere in punishment. The souls that repent obtain the forgiveness of God and enter the ranks of the souls that contemplate him, but those that do not repent and therefore cannot be forgiven disappear. There is no hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls.”

To be perfectly clear, this is not only heretical, it is impossible.  All human souls are immortal and can no more “disappear” than God can forget.  So, the question which remains is, “Did Pope Francis say this or not?” In response to the article, the Vatican issued the following brief statement:

“The Holy Father recently received the founder of the newspaper La Repubblica in a private meeting on the occasion of Easter, without, however, granting him an interview. What is reported by the author in today’s article is the fruit of his reconstruction, in which the precise words uttered by the Pope are not cited. No quotations in the aforementioned article, then, should be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”

Here’s the problem.  Nothing in this statement from the Vatican indicates any kind of denial of the substance of the quote attributed to him by Eugenio Scalfari.  

By choosing not to deny the substance of Scalfari’s claim, which is the pope’s moral duty in the face of such a high-profile scandal, many are led to the logical conclusion that the substance of the quote accurately portrays what Pope Francis said, even if the words used are not precise.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, just a few days later, a well-known Argentinian nun claimed that Pope Francis told her that some forms of contraception and even sterilization could be acceptable ways of avoiding pregnancy under certain circumstances.  Again, to be perfectly clear, the Catholic Church has always taught that the use of contraception and sterilization as the means of avoiding pregnancy are intrinsically evil.  Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Casti Connubii even called them intrinsically vicious and sins against nature.  In paragraph 54, he said:

“But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.”

Even now, three days later, there has been no rebuttal or denial from the Vatican regarding Pope Francis’ alleged comments to this nun.

Here’s the point.

I’m bringing this up because these allegations, reports, and quotes are only in the news because the primary hallmark of this papacy from the very beginning has been ambiguity.

If the pope had always been clear and precise with his statements, such allegations would never have any credibility.

But because Pope Francis chooses not to speak in terms of moral absolutes, it is highly understandable why people around the world find it believable that he might have said the things ascribed to him.

This is made so much worse by those few times the Vatican does choose to respond to such alleged statements with even more vague and ambiguous language.

It is the moral duty and responsibility of the Holy Father to preserve the Faith and the Truths taught by the Catholic Church. Our Blessed Lord had very strong words, however, for those who fail in this responsibility, “Woe to those by whom scandal comes.

We must pray very much for the pope and for all clergy under him who are so freely spreading error.  More importantly, we must be making acts of reparation.

Continuing on the scandalous and alleged comments regarding the existence of Hell, Cardinal Raymond Burke gave an interview to an Italian newspaper this week about the failure of either the Vatican or the Holy Father to repudiate Scalfari’s account of his conversation with Pope Francis.

As if the cutting remarks quoted by Scalfari were not bad enough, the Vatican’s half-repudiation of the statement was the equivalent of pouring alcohol on a wound — which as painful as it sounds, would be an incredible mercy compared to the torments of eternal damnation:

What happened with the last interview given to Eugenio Scalfari during Holy Week and published on Holy Thursday went beyond what is tolerable. That a well-known atheist claims to announce a revolution in the teaching of the Catholic Church, believing that he speaks on behalf of the Pope, denying the immortality of the human soul and the existence of Hell, has been a source of profound scandal not only for many Catholics but also for many people in the secular world who have respect for the Catholic Church and its teachings, even if they do not share them. 

One line in particular stands out, and it is something that we should give deeper reflection.  Burke states:

In the interview with Eugenio Scalfari quoted above, the Pope is referred to as “revolutionary.” But the Petrine Office has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with revolution. 

On Holy Thursday, Christ began his Passion in the Garden of Gethsemane,sweating blood for the sake of our souls.  Our faith teaches us that for our sins, Christ suffered calumny, imprisonment, beatings, scourging with hooks and lead barbs, thorns — only to be wrapped in a garment that would be torn off of the freshly dried wounds of his body the moment he reached Golgotha.

Yet before this, Pontius Pilate would offer the Jews a choice — Barabbas the Revolutionary or Jesus the Christ?

Of course, we know what the crowd chose that day.  Seeking a political revolutionary, they chose a political revolutionary.  Barabbas did not save a soul, and for all their hopes of a political messiah, the Jews would be stomped out by the legions of Vespasian and Titus, fulfilling Christ’s prophecy that “they shall not leave in thee [Jerusalem] a stone upon a stone, because thou hast not known the hour of your visitation.” (Luke 19:44)

Revolution is the enemy of Christ.
Revolution is the opposite choice of Christ.
Revolution is anti-Christ.

Talk of a “revolution” within the Church is precisely the sort of division Christ prayed against so fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The word agonia — literally a physical struggle in an arena between two combatants — is used precisely once in Sacred Scripture, and it is by St. Luke at Gethsemane, where a combat so intense ensues that Christ Himself must be consoled by an angel in order to endure it. (Luke 22:43-44)

Is it any small wonder that immediately after this agony, Christ rises to find the Apostles — our first bishops and cardinals — asleep?

Christ did not suffer agony and death to preserve us from ceasing to exist.  Nor did Christ suffer death on the Cross only to descend into Hell and find it empty.  Christ is victorious over sin and death because the certainty of Hell for those who refuse the Cross is real, serious, enduring, and eternal.

Yet Christ rose victoriously so that we might never taste the sufferings of Hell.  Christ did not conquer nothingness; Christ conquered death, conquered sin, and much to the chagrin of the eternally damned, He even conquered Hell itself.  Not a revolution, but a restoration of all things to Christ and in Christ.

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One comment on “Hell Is Very Hot Edition! (Your Catholic Week in Review)

  1. It should be noted that Christ came to destroy the “1st Death”. The “2nd Death” still exists. In the “1st Death” the souls of the human race were condemned to not enter heaven, even if you were holy as Abraham or Moses. In the Old Testament. This is why the nonChristian Talmudic Jews of today, including Rabbi Skorek, PF’s sidekick, still pray for a long and prosperous life, and many children, as the next best thing to immortality. The old “Limbo”, in the Western Churches, or “Hades”, in the Eastern Churches, was the “Old Death”. Kind of a non-existence regardless if you were Good or Bad because Original Sin killed everyone. Christ “descended into Hell” means He broke open the “black box” of this “1st Death” and allowed Good Souls to now enter heaven. I fear that Pope Francis may have grew up being influenced by the non-Christian Jewish thinking. He’s been Judiazed.

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