Following a controversial report quoting Pope Francis as denying the existence of a literal hell, the pontiff has released a document this week in which he stresses that the devil is real.
“Hence, we should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea,” he said.
Such a “mistake,” the pope added, “would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable.”
His apostolic exhortation included numerous direct references and allusions to Satan, along with instruction to remain vigilant in “a constant struggle against the devil, the prince of evil.”
According to a translation of an interview as reported by friend and avowed atheist Eugenio Scalfari last month, Pope Francis denied that nonbelievers will be tortured in a literal place called hell.
“They are not punished,” he said. “Those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and enter the rank of souls who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot therefore be forgiven disappear.”