Date: May 29, 2013
Source: National Public Radio (NPR); New York Daily News
Pope Francis stated that even atheists can go to Heaven so long as they are good people. The Pope stated this in a letter to La Reppublica as well as in a homily through Radio Vatican.
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! . . . And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. . . . We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: We will meet one another there.”
These statements have serious implications on whether people need to be converted to Catholicism before they are saved. The view of the Catholic Church for centuries was that “outside the Church there is no salvation.”
In a letter to La Reppublica, the Pope wrote: “God’s mercy has no limits, if you go to him with a sincere and repentant heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.”
Sources: National Public Radio (NPR); https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2013/05/29/187009384/Pope-Francis-Even-Atheists-Can-Be-Redeemed
Date: March 30 2018
Source: The Guardian; New York Times
The founder of Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Eugenio Scalfari, 93, wrote in an article that the Pope said during their conversation that hell does not exist. Unrepentant souls just disappear. The Vatican quickly clarified that the article was “the fruit of his reconstruction” and not “a faithful transcription of the Holy Father’s words”.
In the article, Scalfari wrote asked the Pope where “bad souls” go. The Pope, he said, replied: “They are not punished. Those who repent obtain God’s forgiveness and take their place among the ranks of those who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot be forgiven disappear. A hell doesn’t exist, the disappearance of sinning souls exists.”
Such a view contradicts the standard doctrine of the Catholic Church that hell exists.
Sources: The Guardian, March 30, 2018; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/30/vatican-scrambles-to-clarify-popes-denial-that-hell-exists
New York Times, March 30, 2018; https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/30/world/europe/pope-francis-hell-scalfari.html