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Big News: There’s No Such Place As Hell

There’s no such place as hell, and anyone can get into heaven, say Vatican bosses

Big News With Dave Crampton

It’s official – hell is not a place, it’s just a state of being, So is purgatory. At least that’s according to two people in the Catholic Church. Two people may not seem such a big deal, but when one of them is the Pope, and another Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the number two man in the Vatican, who tells Catholics what to believe), well, that’s big news, especially when it contradicts the belief of just about everyone else in the church, and contradicts the catechism (and the bible ) which says hell is a place of torture. Yes, that’s right, a physical place.

I was going to write about church unity, but it appears most denominations are fighting too much about gay clergy or women bishops, or fighting with each other about post-reformation issues, like whether the wine in the communion cup is actually the blood of Christ or not. But those within the Catholic Church can’t even agree on the existence of heaven or hell, let alone what to do about all the gay priests entering seminaries around the world.

A couple of weeks ago Cardinal Ratzinger (who’s parents, ironically, are named Joseph and Mary) defined hell as the absence of God. In a statement, he recalled the horrors of the holocaust, saying, “These hells were made to prepare a future world where men would be sufficient unto themselves. When God is absent, hell appears, and hell simply continues when God is absent.”

Hmmm… sounds pretty abstract to me. What if God “appears”? Does that mean hell disappears. The Cardinal appears to believe that if a real God takes off, an abstract hell appears. Bye God, hi hell – clearer than night turning into day. But all this talk about hell is nothing new – the Pope said something similar about six months ago. He said hell was a “condition resulting from attitudes and actions which people adopt in this life.. it is actually of our own doing”. Sounds a bit like getting cancer as a result of smoking too many cigarettes.

“More than a physical place, hell is the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God,” the Pope adds.

You could be in a state of hell now if you want, according to the Vatican. According to the rest of the Catholic Church, you could end up there when you die – but then you may end up in purgatory, or heaven. Mind you, anyone can get to heaven – Catholic, Protestant or unbeliever, according to another recent speech by the Pope, who said anyone can get to heaven “as long as they live a just life”. This conflicted with Dominus Iesus, a controversial document released in September which said salvation was only through the Catholic Church, and described other religions as “gravely deficient,” with other Christian denominations described as “not proper churches”. Sounds like the “we’re better than you, nya nya nya” mob.

So if anyone can get to heaven, why are other denominations “deficient” and why is there even a need to be “saved” through the Catholic Church? It is nice that the Pope thinks heaven is open to good people. Just be good and do what you`re told. Maybe the Pope thinks he’s good, and that’ll get him to heaven - no salvation, no Christianity, just be good.

Hell, I`m good. I`m real good. I must be going to heaven. If so, why be a Christian then? Does this not contradict 2000 years of Christian teaching? Maybe I can get into heaven by being a good atheist?

The Pope may not believe in the physical existence of hell. Then again he probably doesn’t read the bible or the catechism much either. Perhaps he can learn a thing of two from some of the bible – believing laymen and priests in his church, rather than listening to dodgy dogma from within the Vatican ranks, and disseminating it to those of his followers who believe the truth. Mind you, most of his followers either blindly believe him or blindly ignore him. The rest of us think for ourselves.

- Dave Crampton is a Wellington-based freelance journalist, in addition to writing for Scoop he is the Australasian correspondent for He can be contacted at

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