RUSH: You hear what Pat Buchanan said when he learned that the pope said that there’s no hell? Buchanan said, “Well, then what did Jesus die on the cross for if not to save us from going there?” Which is a brilliant and very simply logical question to ask. Buchanan, by the way, is a devout mainstream Catholic. Now, as far as the controversy is concerned, the pope, even before this — I’m not Catholic, so let me get that stated up front. I have great admiration for many people who are. Do not misunderstand. But I’m not Catholic.
But it’s easy to see that with this pope, the left is even corrupting the Catholic Church. I can remember 25 years ago on this program when Cardinal O’Connor was cardinal of New York City. I met him on a pro-life cruise, actually, around New York harbor shortly after my arrival there. I’d been invited by people I didn’t even know who had heard this new guy on the radio in town who was actively, proudly, publicly pro-life. And that was my first introduction to some really powerful people in New York.
Bowie “The Grand” Kuhn, commissioner of baseball, former commissioner of baseball was on the cruise. Wellington Mara, the New York Giants, Cardinal O’Connor there was. And it was shortly after the time that ACT UP had been parading through St. Patrick’s Cathedral and throwing condoms during one of Cardinal O’Connor’s masses.
And I remember saying countless times that no matter what happened to American culture, that the Catholic Church would remain rooted in its beliefs and, by design, would never cave, would never moderate to accommodate social mores or cultural degradation, that the church was there specifically to avoid that kind of thing. The church was not a political organization. Well, in that sense. Certainly it is in many ways.
But the point being that the church did not throw its finger in the air and see which way the wind was going and get in front of it and then try to appeal to a majority of wherever the culture was. That the church was a rock, that what it believed is what it believed, and that no matter who ran it that was always gonna be the case. And on that basis the church could always be depended upon. It’s always been that way.
This pope comes along, and I tell you, not just this. This pope is left-wing politically active on things like climate change. The whole left-wing agenda, the whole liberal agenda, this pope articulates it, and this pope is doing what he can to intermingle his own personal political beliefs with church doctrine. I never thought I would see that. I mean, I know there are leftists and liberals all over every organization, I’m not being naive, but the church is the church. What it believes is what it believes. It doesn’t change because public opinion changes, and yet it is, at least this pope seems to be doing just that.
So this controversy over the pope saying there is no hell, he apparently was having a conversation with a good friend of his who happens to be an atheist, who then happens to be a journalist. And those two things kind of follow on each other. A journalist who is an atheist makes perfect sense. And this pope talking to this guy, he’s a friend before he’s a journalist, that also makes sense as well.
Now, I’m not objecting to the pope, Il Papa, talking to atheists. In fact, that might be a great mission for a pope to deal in, try to help somebody through their atheism. That would be the mission of the church. But what is reported to have happened by this atheist journalist is that the pope was asked by the journalist, what happens to fallen souls? And do they go to hell? Do they spend eternity rotting in hell?
And the pope said (paraphrasing), “No, there is no hell. Those souls just cease to exist. There is a giant nothingness. Nothing happens. They just die. That’s it. But there is no hell.” So this gets reported, and like many other things that this pope says, the Vatican then began an immediate race to correct this and to suggest the pope was not saying this officially as pope. He was engaged in a private conversation and the journalist happened to leak it, but it was not even a journalist interview.
It was a simple conversation between two human beings, one of whom happened to be the pope, but he wasn’t pope that day, essentially. Not the words they used. But he was not the pope that day. He was this guy’s friend and they were chatting about things. He was not, in other words, the Vatican says articulating anything new in terms of church doctrine.
But the Vatican is hustling now, and they’re doing everything they can to walk this back. Because if this, for example, were an official papal bull, so to speak, or a proclamation, well, this would blow everything up sky-high. I know this is gonna sound really old-fashioned and dated, but the existence of hell in religious doctrine and teachings is as a deterrent. For believers, the last place you would ever want to end up anywhere is hell.
And so hell is presented as what happens if you fail to seek forgiveness for your sins, however your religion says that must be done. And if you fail to repent — and it’s not a matter of doing good works. This gets me in trouble every time I say it. You know, getting to heaven versus getting to hell is not a matter of good works, because there’s nobody who could get to hell if good works were the requirement, because we are all sinners, according to religious doctrine.
So the way to accommodate the sin is Jesus Christ died on the cross in this day for our sins, and if we accept him and accept that, this is the very, very CliffsNotes short version, then we can gain acceptance to the house of the Lord, heaven, and eternal life. If we don’t, we don’t seek the forgiveness, we don’t seek absolution for our sins, we go to hell.
If you take hell out of that equation, if any religion officially took hell out of the equation, then you would, in a psychological, maybe even a realistic sense, you would eliminate one of the greatest deterrents to living a moral and just life that there is in religious life today. If it makes no difference, if there is no eternal life, if there is no heaven, if there is no hell, then what difference does it make what you do in your life?
What possible thing can happen, what’s the worst thing that can happen to you if there is nothing after you die? And that’s the risk that people don’t want to take with removing hell. And I know people say, “Come on, Rush, nobody can prove it, even the fact that it’s a deterrent, it never stopped anybody.”
Oh, it does when they’re about to die. Many people have a, quote, unquote, “come to Jesus” moment as they age and get older. But, anyway, without getting into more detail on that and the psychological or sociological aspects, just the pope even flirting with this is causing a whole bunch of trouble and a lot of trouble. But to me it’s not a surprise at all, given this pope’s previous political statements that the Vatican has then had to run around and fix and try to restate, and so forth.
At any rate, see what happens with this going down the road. I imagine theVatican is just gonna continue to try to sweep it under the rug and the pope himself will probably enter the fray if he has to to say, “Hey, hey, hey, there’s nothing here. I, of course, don’t believe that. It was a private conversation with an atheist journalist who asked me a question and that was that.”
RUSH: So I checked the email during the break. “Rush, don’t you think you’re making a little bit too much of this pope and the hell business?” Well, actually no, folks, when it comes to the pope as the Vicar of Christ and the leader of the world’s Catholics, I don’t think this is insignificant.
Catholicism is like any other religion: You have your true believers; you have your in-name-onlys. It runs the gamut. But they’re there. They are believers to one extent other another. They’re born into it, they’re raised into it, they’re taught it, they have to learn it, they believe it. And here’s the pope, even if he wasn’t serious, talking to an atheist journalist saying there is no hell, that’s a problem.
You know, Billy Graham said that he was most often asked the question about hell, is there hell, did he believe that there is a hell. And he quoted scripture. He said in the Bible the person that most often talks about hell is Jesus. He said it might surprise you to learn that the person in the Bible who spoke the most about hell’s reality was Jesus. He repeatedly warned people not to take it lightly. And then he quoted Matthew 10:28: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
In other words, be afraid of the devil. Do not be afraid of dying. Be afraid of going to hell. And that this admonition was frequently coming from Jesus. So for that to be contradicted by the pope, believe me, is going to shake some people up, if they can’t sweep this away. And, by the way, what happens now to being devil’s advocate? If there’s no hell, there’s no devil. So how can you ever be a devil’s advocate? A whole line of questioning has also been obliterated by the pope!