The Fear of God: The Terror of Pope Francis

Until recently I had met no one who was willing to utter a bad word about Pope Francis. But following Jorge’s criticism of journalism for finding fires (or “stoking” them in his vernacular), a few scribblers allowed themselves some skepticism.

Spreading rumours is an example of “terrorism, of how you can kill a person with your tongue”, the Pope said. “This is even more true for journalists because their voice can reach everyone and this is a very powerful weapon.”

How exactly, it was asked, could someone whose organisation threatens eternal damnation make such remarks? Isn’t there a whiff here of that which Jesus took such exception to – hypocrisy?

It initiated the following exchange.



Anon: Pope Francis is not responsible for the “blackmail of Hellfire”. He’s made no such statements.


Paddy: But has this Pope declared that Hell does not exist – admitted that his forebears invented the concept to keep the poor in line? No, he has not.

So we can be sure that in the Catholic mind Fire and Brimstone is still very much a reality. With all those deviating too much from the Church’s directives being sent down there on Judgement Day …and perhaps even the unbaptized too; certainly the infidels.

Hell does in fact loom over (or under?) every sincere Catholic believer. By not thwarting that particular myth the Pope is ensuring millions remain, and ensures they toe their priest’s line. How many choirboys, I wonder, followed Father Jimmy’s orders with a fearful reminder of what lay far below that.

(Edit: I refer readers to the relatively recent reversal of policy regarding unbaptized babies. Should they expire prior to receiving sprinkles of holy water, grieving parents were informed that their child’s soul would forever be condemned to Purgatory. So much for pastoral care.)


Anon: No, the pope has not said that Hell doesn’t exist, but that is not the original argument. The concept of eternal torment in the afterlife wasn’t invented by the Catholics. The ancient Greeks had Tartarus for those that did things that spited the gods. Again though, your argument on who invented Hell has nothing to do with the original argument. So, because he doesn’t say that Hell doesn’t exist he is towing the line of fear? Eh… not a far stretch, I’ll give you that one, but in the end it is not a great argument because of him going on record as saying Atheists are welcome in heaven.

Atheists are probably the number two people used in that fear tactic of who is going to Hell, why they are going, and how they are going to suffer. The number one group is the gays, and this pope has also gone on record positively about the LGTB community. If we are going to go into “hidden meanings” in his words, it would seem that the only people that are going to Hell is people like Pat Robertson, Bill O’Reilly, and the like. LASTLY, you have no more evidence that Hell doesn’t exist than they do that it does, so the last part of your argument is completely pointless.


Paddy: Putting aside the fact that the Catholic Church claims a monopoly of truth for a moment (a fact that makes your Greek point redundant)…

You want me to prove a negative, which, I’m sure you realise, no one can do. I can’t disprove Hell as much as I can’t disprove unicorns and leprechauns.

And to add another dimension to this mire: can you point to the Bible passages which actually describe Hell? The scholars I’m aware of state it was an invention of the Middle Ages.


Anon: If you want to claim something as fact, like Hell doesn’t exist, then you need to have proof. I would say the same to a religious fundamentalist that claims Hell existing as a fact. If you don’t, or can’t, then I can dismiss that part of your argument as pointless freely.

And besides, the church just invented the name. The concept has been around for millennia.


Paddy: Your case thus far:
1) “You expect the Catholic Church to be uniquely good?! Hell has been around for yonks”
2) “Prove a negative, go on go on go on!”
3) “It doesn’t matter what the Bible says I just know what the religion’s about”

It’s amazing to me that your Church can murder, rape, exploit and deploy terror the world over, but – and excuse me here – God help the poor soul who points this out.


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