The Pope is right

I follow the report below with some comments

Scalfari says to the Pope, "Your Holiness, in our previous meeting you told me that our species will disappear in a certain moment and that God, still out of his creative force, will create new species. You have never spoken to me about the souls who died in sin and will go to hell to suffer it for eternity. You have however spoken to me of good souls, admitted to the contemplation of God. But what about bad souls? Where are they punished?"

Pope Francis says,  "They are not punished, those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and enter the rank of souls who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot therefore be forgiven disappear. There is no hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls."


Francis is a Jesuit, which means he is a man of some scholarship.  And it appears that he knows his Bible.  What he says is exactly what I say as a result of my Bible studies. And what the Bible says is not all obscure or hard to find.  It's actually all in the best known of Bible passages, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life".  We see there that the alternative to salvation is to perish, to cease to exist, not flitting off to a place of torture.

And what about another well-known scripture: 'Enter ye in at the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat'. How narrow is the gate and strait is the way that leadeth to life; and few there are that find it (Matthew 7:13,14 Douay).  Again we see that sin leads to destruction, not hell.

But what about texts that do seem to support hellfire?  One is a metaphorical prophecy in Matthew 25. It is metaphorical because a spirit being would not actually be sitting on a throne. An excerpt:

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world ... Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal"

At the end of the passage, Jesus clarifies the metaphor.  He summarizes himself as saying that "these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal".  The "life eternal" is clear enough but what is the "everlasting punishment"?

Is it literally the "everlasting fire" into which the "goats" are cast?  If so, it certainly does sound like a clear formulation of a hellfire doctrine. But we have to look at the summary Jesus gave to check that. The word translated as "punishment" is in Greek "kolasin" and it simply means "cutting off". It is the word a Greek gardener might use to describe the pruning of a tree. So it would be a superior  translation to say that the goats would be cut off and thrown away like the unwanted branch of a tree

So, when properly translated, we see that Christ was, as usual, offering the alternatives of life and death, not heaven and hell -- exactly as he does in John 3:16. The sheep get eternal life and the goats get eternal death.

A Vatican announcement has appeared which denies that the Pope said what he did but I guess they had to.  It was not an ex cathedra pronouncement by Francis but it did go against traditional Catholic teaching. It seems that Francis was expressing his own personal views -- which are much more in tune with both modern thinking and scripture

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments containing Chinese characters will not be published as I do not understand them