The Vatican has reported that Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari’s assertion regarding Pope Francis’s position on hell is not accurate. Scalfari claimed the pope told him that damned human persons don’t suffer in hell eternally but rather simply go out of existence.
On various occasions, Pope Francis has publicly made clear that hell is real and everlasting and that unrepentant souls who definitively exclude themselves from God go there. As Vatican News recently reported:
It was at a morning Mass in Santa Marta, back in November 2016, that Pope Francis mentioned how the world “does not like to think” about the Four Last Things. The reason, he suggested, is that death, judgement, hell and heaven, are just too scary to contemplate. The truth, he continued, is that if you choose to live your whole life far away from the Lord, you run the risk of “continuing to live far away from him for all eternity.”
Pope Francis has made his personal vision of hell quite clear on several occasions. During another homily in the Vatican in 2016, he said hell is not “a torture chamber.” Rather, it is the horror of being separated forever from the “God who loves us so much.” His predecessor, Pope St John Paul II, said something similar in 1999: not so much a physical place, he explained, “Hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy.”
For more on this topic, see Karlo Broussard’s related article on hell.