- Published on Thursday, 29 April 2010 13:48
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 3398
In case anyone wants to know what the official teaching of the Catholic Church is on Heaven and Hell, here are some quotes from the Pope.
Hell is a place where sinners really do burn in an everlasting fire, and not just a religious symbol designed to galvanise the faithful. Addressing a parish gathering in a northern suburb of Rome, Benedict XVI said that in the modern world many people, including some believers, had forgotten that if they failed to "admit blame and promise to sin no more", they risked "eternal damnation - the Inferno". Hell "really exists and is eternal, even if nobody talks about it much any more", he said.
A spokesman said the Pope had wanted to reinforce the new Catholic catechism, which holds that Hell is a "state of eternal separation from God", to be understood "symbolically rather than physically".
Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, a Church historian, said that the Pope was "right to remind us that Hell is not something to be put on one side" as an inconvenient or embarrassing aspect of belief.
In 1999 Pope John Paul II declared that Heaven was "neither an abstraction nor a physical place in the clouds, but that fullness of communion with God which is the goal of human life." Hell, by contrast, was "the ultimate consequence of sin itself . . . Rather than a place, Hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy".
In October the Pope indicated that limbo, supposed since medieval times to be a "halfway house" between Heaven and Hell, inhabited by unbaptised infants and holy men and women who lived before Christ, was "only a theological hypothesis" and not a "definitive truth of the faith". There's some backpedalling for you. Looks like the Church does change its teaching when it suits.
Just thought you'd like to know.
Let me translate:
- Hell is eternal fire but not a physical fire - I'm not sure this helps but that's what he said. I suspect you are not meant to truly understand.
- Heaven is a "fullness of communion with God". If this is meant to be a reward for good behaviour, why bother? I think I prefer the 70 virgins.
Facts from Times On-Line