The current head of the Catholic Church just abolished hell.
As reported by Metro, Pope Francis reportedly said that hell does not exist in a conversation with a well-known atheist at the Vatican, Eugenio Scalfari.
Scalfari is the founder of one of Italy’s leading newspapers, La Repubblica.
In many religious and folkloric traditions, Hell is a place or state of torment and punishment in an afterlife. But Francis told Scalfari that hell does not exist.
Instead, he said that the unrepentant souls will just vanish forever and go unpunished.
"They are not punished, those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and go among the ranks of the souls who contemplate him," the Pope reportedly said.
He added that "those who do not repent, and therefore cannot be forgiven, disappear."
The conversation became one of the series that has been reported in La Repubblica.
According to Vox, the Vatican clarified the report after the public controversy, claiming that the quotes in the article that Scalfari had published were not “a faithful transcription of the Holy Father’s words.”
The Italian journalist already published controversial reports attributed to the Pope in the past.
The Vatican once claimed that Scalfari's interviews with the Pope are only reconstructed from his memory because he neither uses a recording device, nor does he take notes.
In a 2013 interview with Scalfari, Francis reportedly said that there is no Catholic God and that he also dismissed attempts at converting non-Catholics to the faith as solemn nonsense. The Vatican, however, removed the text of the interview from its website.
Two years later, Scalfari reported that the Pope wondered if all of the sinners would be annihilated instead of damned. But the Vatican said that the interview had not been recorded so Francis' quotes should not be considered as official texts.
Despite the controversies, the Pope resumed his friendship with the veteran journalist.
Scalfari is a longtime friend and intellectual sparring partner of Francis. He has constantly bragged about his interviewing techniques.