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Scalfari story was ‘profound scandal’ – cardinal

Eugenio Scalfari (CNS)

The fallout from the Pope’s interview with Eugenio Scalfari, in which he allegedly cast doubt on the existence of hell, is “beyond tolerable”, Cardinal Raymond Burke has said.

Mr Scalfari, the co-founder of Italy’s daily La Repubblica, claimed that Pope Francis told him that the souls of sinners “disappear” upon death, saying: “There is no hell, there is the disappearance of sinful souls.” The comments generated headlines around the world, some claiming the Pope had “abolished hell”.

“What happened with the latest interview given to Eugenio Scalfari … was beyond tolerable,” Cardinal Burke told La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.

“That a famous atheist claims to announce a revolution in the teaching of the Catholic Church, believing to speak in the name 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 lay people who respect the Catholic Church and its teachings, even if they do not share them.”

The cardinal added that the day of the article’s publication – Holy Thursday – was especially insulting as it was “one of
the holiest days of the year”.

The Vatican Press Office said that Mr Scalfari’s text was not necessarily a “faithful transcription”. Mr Scalfari, 93, has admitted he does not take notes or record the interviews.

Cardinal Burke criticised this response as inadequate. “Instead of clearly restating the truth about the immortality of the human soul and hell, the denial only said that some of the words quoted are not of the Pope.

“It did not say that the erroneous, even heretical ideas expressed by these words are not shared by the Pope and that the Pope repudiates such ideas as contrary to the Catholic faith.

Cardinal Burke said this amounted to “playing with faith and doctrine, at the highest level of the Church.”

The cardinal also condemned what he described as the silence of bishops and cardinals on the matter, and was especially
critical of those who “spread fantasies of a new Church, of a Church that takes a totally different direction from the past, imagining, for example, a ‘new paradigm’ for the Church.”

Catholics mourn ‘gentle giant’

A seminarian who carried the cross at the Pope’s Easter Mass has died in Rome as a result of a heart condition.

Brother Anthony Freeman, a member of the Legionaries of Christ from Houston, Texas, was called a “gentle giant” and a “prayer warrior” in messages posted at He managed a Facebook page, Catholic Life Coach, and wrote a book about trying to be holy.

An autopsy found that an inherited heart problem was the cause of death.