I read somewhere recently that if you bring up the Holy Inquisition or Hitler in any online discussion, you automatically lose.
If you agree with that, you can stop reading now.
Pope Benedict XVI, who was as a youngster a member of the Hitler Youth and later was Prefect of the Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine and Faith (which until 1908 was known as Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition, or the Holy Inquisition), recently warned the world that Hell was a real, eternal, and hot place, so you better behave.
One of Benedict's myrmidons, Agostino Paravicini Bagliani, a Church historian, said that the Pope was "right to remind us that Hell is not something to be put on one side" as an inconvenient or embarrassing aspect of belief, and admitted that the concept of Hell had been misused in the Middle Ages to scare the impressionable with "horrific visions" of damnation, as described in Dante’s Inferno.
And now Pope Benedict is trying to do it again... trying to scare the willies out of the Catholic faithful by reminding them they'll all go to the fiery pits if they don't toe the line.
What I find most interesting is this: Benedict's predecessor, the beloved Pope John Paul II, said less than a decade ago that Hell as a physical place does not exist.
In 1999 Pope John Paul II declared that Heaven was "neither an abstraction nor a physical place in the clouds, but that fullness of communion with God which is the goal of human life."
Hell, by contrast, was "the ultimate consequence of sin itself.... Rather than a place, Hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy." [Emphasis mine.]
So, at the risk of offending the 1.1 billion Roman Catholics and the other billion Christians of other denominations, I must ask: How the hell do you take any of it seriously when back-to-back Pontiffs, whose words are supposed to be infallible, disagree on such a major point in your Doctrine?
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