Pope Francis previously taught Hell exists forever

In his Address at the Church of “San Gregorio VII”, Rome, on Friday, 21 March 2014, Pope Francis stated:

“And I feel that I cannot conclude without saying a word to the absent bosses today, to those absent but central figures: the men and women of the mafia. Please, change your lives, convert, stop, cease to do evil! We are praying for you. Convert, I ask it on my knees; it is for your own good. This life you are living now, it won’t bring you pleasure, it won’t give you joy, it won’t bring you happiness. The power, the money, that you possess now from so many dirty transactions, from so many mafia crimes, is blood-stained money, it is power soaked in blood, and you cannot take it with you to the next life. Convert, there is still time, so that you don’t end up in hell. That is what awaits you if you continue on this path. You had a father and a mother: think of them. Cry a little and convert.”

Emphasis added. Pope Francis warned the mafia bosses that, if they do not convert, they will end up in hell. He stated unequivocally: “That is what awaits you if you continue on this path.” Therefore, Pope Francis does believe hell exists and has taught that it exists.

But do the souls in hell continue in hell forever? Pope Francis answers that question in his message for Lent 2016:

“By taking this path, the “proud”, the “powerful” and the “wealthy” spoken of in the Magnificat can also be embraced and undeservedly loved by the crucified Lord who died and rose for them. This love alone is the answer to that yearning for infinite happiness and love that we think we can satisfy with the idols of knowledge, power and riches. Yet the danger always remains that by a constant refusal to open the doors of their hearts to Christ who knocks on them in the poor, the proud, rich and powerful will end up condemning themselves and plunging into the eternal abyss of solitude which is Hell.

Hell is the “eternal” abyss of solitude. Thus, it continues forever. Hell is called solitude because, without love, there is loneliness, no matter how many other souls go to Hell with you. And the condemned souls are said to condemn themselves because they only go to Hell due to their own choices in life.

Finally, in his morning meditation on 22 November 2016, Pope Francis taught the following:

“We are therefore faced with a real and true “call from the Lord to think seriously about the end: about my end, the judgment, about my judgment”. In this regard, the Pope recalled how when we are children we go “to catechism” class, and are taught “four things: death, judgment, hell or glory”.

Of course, some might say: “Father, this frightens us”. However, Francis replied: “It is the truth. Because if you do not take care of your heart”, and “you always live far away from the Lord, perhaps there is the danger, the danger of continuing in this way, far away from the Lord for eternity. This is very bad!”.”

We are taught, from our very childhood, that hell exists. And if this “frightens us”, the Pope nevertheless says, “It is the truth”. There is in fact a danger that souls who choose to live far away from the Lord, in this life, will continue to be “far away from the Lord for eternity”. So Hell exists, some souls go there, and Hell continues forever.

Recently, a 93 year old atheist communist, who publishes a newspaper, claimed that Pope Francis said hell does not exist, and that after death, the bad souls simply disappear. This man has, in the past, been discovered to have given very inaccurate descriptions of his conversations with Pope Francis. He talks to the Pope, makes no recordings and takes no notes, and they he publishes a word-for-word conversation, which cannot possibly be correct given his age, the lack of notes and recordings, and his history of misreporting what the Pope says.

In addition, being an atheist, the man does not have the theological background to correctly understand any theological points that the Roman Pontiff might make. It is easy for a non-believer to misunderstand any point of theology at all, since they have no basic understanding of the faith on which to rely.

UPDATED to add this link to a National Catholic Register story noting a conversation the Pope had with children on 8 March 2015. At that time, the Pope again asserted that Hell exists, and “you go there because you choose to be there.”

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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25 Responses to Pope Francis previously taught Hell exists forever

  1. Matt Z. says:

    Yesterday I had a friend at work approach me and show me am article that reported that the Pope said there was no hell. My friend immediately called the Pope a heretic and said he has got to go. I said you should never say such a thing or else fall into schism. I said lets take a look at the source and read exactly what the Pope said in its full context. Once we figured out it was a communistic athiest reporting these things my friend was quiet. Point is, be very careful what we read im the internet, inspect it, and follow through on seeking the full truth.

    • Ron Conte says:

      More importantly, we must put our faith in Jesus. Even if the evidence is overwhelming that a Pope taught or committed heresy, I will never believe that, because I have faith in God to protect his Church from error.

    • stefano says:

      Ron, if the evidence is overwhelming that a Pope taught or committed heresy, to disregard such evidence – as if it was a collective allucination – cannot be in accord with the faith that God protects his Church from error. As a matter of fact, it might even be proof of the contrary.

      Logically, one can say that God is unfaithful to His Church and does not protect her from error only if, once permitted heresy, He also blinds the mind of the faithful, so to cloud the evidence of heresy. Instead, if the error is evident to the majority, it is clear that the Spirit of God lives in the Church, despite the error of His Vicar. The faith of the faithful must not be placed in his error, but in the fact that he too will recognize the error, eventually.

      To hide an obvious error, even if a mistake by the Pope, especially when in presence of an overwhelming evidence, is to fight the Spirit of Truth, hence God Himself; it is a form of complicity with heresy and bears the responsibility of spreading such error.

    • Ron Conte says:

      In the previous 2000 years, according to Saint Robert Bellarmine, no Popes taught or committed heresy. This tends in favor of the view that no Pope can do so. Moreover, the teaching of the First Vatican Council excludes the Pope teaching or committing heresy, based on the words of Jesus. On the other hand, the supposed “overwhelming evidence” is weak and presumes all kinds of unproven premises, such as that the conservative interpretation is inerrant. I’ve gone through the claims in the Filial Correction, and easily disproved each one. Even many papal critics admit that AL does not really say anything heretical, nor does it contain much by way of even alleged error. You have to interpret the Pope’s words uncharitably, with bias against him personally and with bias in favor of the conservative interpretation of doctrine in order to accuse him of error. And he has said nothing even close to heresy. So, there is no overwhelming evidence. And the evidence that God would not permit any Pope to teach or commit heresy is itself overwhelming.

  2. Anthony says:

    My question is unrelated to the article, but I would like your thoughts on something.

    In a comment on a forum, you stated, “it is heresy to claim that anyone other than the Virgin Mary was conceived of parents who had original sin and yet did not inherit that sin from conception.”

    St. Athanasius the Great believed the Prophet Jeremiah was conceived without sin (that is, he was sanctified from the moment of his conception). He writes,

    “Many for instance have been made holy and clean from all sin; nay, Jeremiah was hallowed even from the womb, and John, while yet in the womb, leapt for joy at the voice of Mary Bearer of God; nevertheless ‘death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression’ (Rom. 5:14) and thus man remained mortal and corruptible as before, liable to the affections proper to their nature.” (Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 3.33)

    He distinguishes “from the womb” (assumedly at the moment of conception) versus while in the womb.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I also believe that John and Joseph were sanctified from the womb — but that does not mean from conception. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception says it as a “singular grace and privilege” so it would be contrary to dogma to say that it was not singular. John and Joseph were conceived with original sin, sanctified in the womb, and so they had concupiscence. And this concupiscence shows itself, for example, when John sent disciples to ask whether Jesus was the one, or should they expect another after him, and when Joseph mistakenly thought it best to dismiss Mary quietly.

    • stefano says:

      Ron, according to the Gospels, Joseph did not dismiss Mary mistakenly, but because he was just. This means that he did the right thing, not the wrong one.
      In fact, he knew for sure that the child in Mary had to do with some inscrutable design of God; what he did not know – and he could never know until God himself revealed him throught the angel – was the place that God had assigned him in His design on Mary.

      Only for this reason Joseph dismissed Mary, not for being suspicious. Actually, by dismissing Mary, he submitted his resignation from being her spouse, of which he did not consider himself worthy.

      If being unaware of such design had to be considered a mistake due to concupiscence, then it should be the same about Mary, since neither she knew what would be the place of Joseph in God’s design on Her; otherwise she would have told him, and he would have believed her.

      Hence, since concupiscence does not apply to Mary, then mistake does not apply to Joseph, at least in this case.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I agree about Joseph’s motives being just. But concupiscence kept him from understanding that it was God’s plan for him to have Mary as his wife. And it is a different case, knowing God’s will for one’s self, versus for another person.

    • stefano says:

      “Joseph, son of David, fear not to take Mary as you legitimate spouse…”, these words tell us that Joseph, being just, feared God. Now, how can someone do something in fear of God and, at the same time, for concupiscence?

    • Ron Conte says:

      In these cases, I meant not that concupiscence causes a person to sin, but that it clouds the mind and heart, making it more difficult to perceive the whole truth: John was not sure if Jesus was the Messiah. Mary was sure. Joseph did not realize that he should take Mary as his wife. He did not sin. He did fear God greatly. But if he was untouched by concupiscence, he would not have misunderstood the best course of action. St. Thomas says that Adam and Eve, before the fall, could not have erred in certain ways, because they were untouched by concupiscence.

  3. Matthew says:

    Thanks for this article. It is helpful to have examples of when Pope Francis has taught about hell. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t care what the Pope teaches and with such great attention to this on the internet, it seems the conservative schism continues to unfold right before our eyes.

    The Remnant, for example, posted an article that accused Pope Francis of the heresy of annihilationism. The author ended the article with this “prayer”: ‘May the good God soon deliver the Church from this pontificate’. How much more prideful can these people get?

  4. Brian says:

    I find it very disturbing that many of the most vocal conservative Catholics talk and suspect exactly the same things of Pope Francis as my Evangelical relatives do. Thank you for working to help him.

  5. Anthony says:

    The example I cited was of the Prophet Jeremiah. He asserts that he was conceived without sin.

    Granted he could be wrong on this point, but that’s what he believes.

    • Ron Conte says:

      He does not say he was conceived without sin. God says: “And before you went forth from the womb, I sanctified you.” That implies, perhaps, a non-formal baptism before birth. It does not imply an immaculate conception. The dogma is that Mary’s immaculate conception is “singular”.

  6. Jay says:

    Ron- If this old Atheist is so inaccurate why does Francis keep going back to him to be interviewed? I believe this is the fifth of sixth time now. I can understand why there is going to be a schism and it starts with “Pope” Francis not some group of conservative bloggers.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Pope Saint Celestine V was holy, but did not do well in the administrative tasks of running the Church. He made many more mistakes than Pope Francis. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03479b.htm His papacy ended by resignation. I think that Pope Francis is a modern-day Pope Saint Cellestine V, and I also think that his papacy will also end in resignation. But he is not a heretic or an evil person. He is a stumbling block chosen by God to show the world the faults of conservative Catholics. And the next Pope is the same for liberal Catholics.

  7. Paul M. says:

    A fair-minded person certainly gives the benefit of the doubt to all persons, particularly to those in authority, and especially to the Vicar of Christ.

    Regarding the actual quotes, however, isn’t it more even-handed to look at the totality of the things that Pope Francis has said and wrote, and then try to surmise his intentions? It seems to me that many things can and are being taken out of context. Both “liberals” and “conservatives” can “cherry pick” words of Pope Francis and draw far different conclusions.

    A logical conclusion an acute observer can make, it seems to me, is that Pope Francis does not make it a priority to clarify his intentions when he is either misquoted or misunderstood. In this day and age of mass communication this is unfortunate. (That’s an understatement.)

    As for Pope Francis being a stumbling block only to conservatives, that is an oversimplified premise. Pope Francis is a stumbling block to anyone seeking the truth and grappling with apparent contradictions. He is a stumbling block to bishops and priests who are mandated to teach the faith in truth and with conviction. He is also a stumbling block to anyone who prefers to draw their own conclusions and shoehorn his words to their preconceived (potentially harmful) notions. Lastly, he is a stumbling block to a world that does not know Christ or only knows Him imperfectly and is looking to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church for guidance.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I don’t think we should be judging anyone’s intentions. How do you or I know what is in anyone else’s heart or mind? His public teaching on Hell is clear: it exists, the souls there continue forever, and it is a harsh enough punishment that no one would wish to go there. I don’t believe Pope Francis is a stumbling block to those who have faith or who teach the truth. It is only pride and the poor habits learned from secular society that cause people to think that they have the right or role to judge the Vicar of Christ.

    • Paul M. says:

      I do not understand about not judging his intentions. The onus on all Catholics is to submit to the truth as taught by Holy Mother Church. As a theologian, surely you must hold this responsibility in high regard. If Pope Francis says or writes something that seems contradictory to the historical (and consequently binding) teaching of the Church, then judging his intentions is critical. You do this yourself when you share Pope Francis’ words and pair them with the deposit of faith.

      If Pope Francis speaks or writes ambiguously and one does not discern the meaning, then one is liable to draw conclusions that can be seriously harmful to one’s faith.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Discerning the meaning of his theology is not the same as discerning his intentions (his motivations or goals). I think that Francis errs no more often then past Popes, and most of the opposition is due to his being liberal. If a conservative Pope makes the type of error that conservatives are prone to, no one seems to notice (e.g. being too harsh with sinners, focusing too much on rules and points of liturgical form, etc.){.

    • Paul M. says:

      Perhaps our definitions are different for the word “intention.” I mean that I need to determine by my reason and limited faculties how the Pope’s words are to be read in light of the Catholic faith and it’s Traditions.

      I do not always find this possible, to be honest– and again, my limitations certainly play a role, as do language, context and the humanity of the Pope, himself.

      I lament that there are many occasions that I find myself scratching my head. I do not want to be scandalized by the Pope, so I must try to discern what his intentions are when he “seems” to be contradicting universal Church teaching. That is all.

    • Ron Conte says:

      OK, “how the Pope’s words are to be read in light of the Catholic faith and it’s Traditions” is not the theological definition of intention. You are merely taking about the correct interpretation. If you don’t understand the meaning, there is no cause for scandal. There are many bible passages that are obscure. Sometimes the writings of the Saints are obscure in meaning. I see no reason why people should be so upset and accusatory at the Pope, merely because they do not immediately understand his words, in the light of their own limited understanding of the Faith. That is exactly the problem, isn’t it? They expect everything the Pope says to agree with their own understanding, so that they do not need to correct or add to their own thinking. When he says something that would require correction or learning something new, they refuse to change their understanding, out of pride. But if, at some time, any Pope says something not clear, so what? That is not scandal. That is simply the usual situation among fallen sinners in a fallen world.

  8. Guest says:

    He is the pope. Realistically, he is the one who most desires the benefit of doubt because we believe that under him the Church will never defect from the faith.

  9. jack hope says:

    What’s more tragic is the Pope’s attitude to have private and unrecorded conversations with a newspaper director who has already misreported at least 3 other times what He said. I strongly hope this is the last time…

    • Jack Gallagher says:

      But consider if he should meet with Scalfari again, and this time, he agrees to the conversation being fully recorded with audio equipment or even on camera, and you are able to hear for yourself the Pope say these things that Scalfari most recently reported; what then?

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