Who tortures souls in hell?
Contrary to what many works of art depict, the tortures of hell experienced by the damned are not at the end of a demon's red-hot poker. Nor is God stoking the fires of hell so he can enjoy the suffering and misery of the damned as they roast in eternal fires.
The tortures of hell are self-imposed. The Church teaches that the torments suffered by “the damned will suffer in both mind and body, because both mind and body had a share in their sins. The mind suffers the 'pain of loss' in which it is tortured by the thought of having lost God forever, and the body suffers the 'pain of sense' by which it is tortured by the thought of having lost God forever, and the body suffers the 'pain of sense: by which it is tortured in all its members and senses' (Baltimore Catechism, lesson 7. question 380).
Pope John Paul II's 1999 General Audience address on hell:
1. God is the infinitely good and merciful Father. But man, called to respond to him freely, can unfortunately choose to reject his love and forgiveness once and for all, thus separating himself for ever from joyful communion with him. It is precisely this tragic situation that Christian doctrine explains when it speaks of eternal damnation or hell. It is not a punishment imposed externally by God but a development of premises already set by people in this life. The very dimension of unhappiness which this obscure condition brings can in a certain way be sensed in the light of some of the terrible experiences we have suffered which, as is commonly said, make life “hell.”
In a theological sense, hell is something else: the ultimate consequence of sin itself, which turns against the person who committed it. It is the state of those who definitively reject the Father’s mercy, even at the last moment of their life.
“Eternal damnation,” therefore, is not attributed to God's initiative, because in his merciful love he can only desire the salvation of the beings he created. In reality, it is the creature who closes himself to his love. Damnation consists in definitive separation from God, freely chosen by the human person and confirmed with death, which seals his choice forever. God’s judgment ratifies this state.