Pope Presides Over Good Friday Amid Hell Controversy - NBC Southern California
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Pope Presides Over Good Friday Amid Hell Controversy

The solemn commemorations coincide with the pope's reported assertion — at the height of Holy Week — that hell doesn't exist

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Pope Presides Over Good Friday Amid Hell Controversy
    AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
    Pope Francis kneels as he celebrates the Good Friday Passion of Christ Mass inside St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Friday, March 30, 2018. Pope Francis began the Good Friday service at the Vatican with the Passion of Christ Mass and hours later will go to the ancient Colosseum in Rome for the traditional Way of the Cross procession.

    Pope Francis presided over solemn Good Friday services amid heightened security at Rome's Colosseum for the Via Crucis procession and a new communications controversy at home.

    Italian police, carabinieri and soldiers were on alert, with Holy Week coinciding with a spate of arrests of suspected Islamic extremists around Italy and warnings from law enforcement about the return of foreign fighters from Iraq and Syria.

    At the start of the most solemn period of the Catholic Church calendar, Francis lay prostrate in front of the altar in St. Peter's Basilica before the chant-filled Good Friday evening service got underway.

    Later Friday, Francis travels to the Colosseum to preside over the Way of the Cross procession re-enacting Christ's crucifixion — the seminal event in Christianity leading to Christ's resurrection celebrated on Easter Sunday.

    Pope Helps Injured Officer Thrown From Horse

    [NATL] Pope Helps Injured Officer Thrown From Horse

    Pope Francis stopped his motorcade to help an injured police officer during a procession in Chile. The police officer was thrown from her horse when the Popemobile passed it.

    (Published Friday, Jan. 19, 2018)

    The solemn commemorations coincide with a new communications controversy in the Vatican over the pope's reported assertion — at the height of Holy Week — that hell doesn't exist. The Vatican hasn't denied Francis' comments to the La Repubblica newspaper, saying only that the journalist reconstructed a conversation.

    It was the fifth time in five years that Francis has spoken to Repubblica's founder, Eugenio Scalfari, a devout atheist who admits he doesn't record or take notes during interviews.

    Nearly every time a Francis interview has appeared on Repubblica's front page, the Vatican press office has insisted the pope's words weren't necessarily accurate, without denying them outright. That has prompted questions about why the pope continually lets himself be quoted by Scalfari.

    Spokesman Greg Burke didn't respond Friday when asked whether the pope believes in the existence of hell or not. Francis has in the past spoke frequently about the devil and hell.

    The doubts, however, have enraged Catholic conservatives, who have lost their patience with a pope who seems to care less about doctrine than dialogue, especially with atheists and people of other faiths.