The Vatican has reacted to

On March 29, 2018, the Pontiff was quoted saying, “Hell does not exist — what exists is the disappearance of sinful souls,” in an interview with Italian daily, La Repubblica.

When 93-year-old journalist Eugenio Scalfari asked Francis where “bad souls” end up, his reply was that they “disappear.”

“They are not punished, 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," the pope reportedly said.

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Vatican insists hell is real despite Pontiff’s statement

According to The Catholic News Agency, the Vatican has responded by saying that the story is based on the reporter’s own “reconstruction” not ‘an accurate depiction of Francis’ words.’

The statement read: “What is reported by the author in today’s article is the result of his reconstruction, in which the literal words pronounced by the Pope are not quoted.

“No quotation of the aforementioned article must, therefore, be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”

The statement added that the meeting between Pope Francis and the Italian journalist was a “private meeting for the occasion of Easter, however without giving him any interview."

Reportedly, this is not the first time Scalfari has 'false reported' on Pope Francis' comments after a private audience.

In 2013, the interviewer is said to have admitted that some of the words he had published a month prior “were not shared by the Pope himself.”

“I try to understand the person I am interviewing, and after that I write his answers with my own words,” Scalfari explained.

According to the news agency, he “also falsely reported that Pope Francis had made comments denying the existence of hell in 2015.”

Scalfari, a self-proclaimed atheist, founder and former editor of Italian leftist newspaper La Repubblica is yet to comment on this new development.