ROME (CNS): God’s mercy and love are great, but those who reject him should know that hell “exists and is eternal”, Pope Benedict XVI said.
The Pope made the comments during a visit on March 25 to a Rome parish that serves a predominantly immigrant population, including the city’s Filipino community.
In a sermon, the Pope focused on what has become a running theme of his pontificate – the importance of divine love.
That same love is reflected in the sacrifice of Christ, who came with the concrete goal of saving souls, he said.
“Christ came to tell us that he desires all of us in heaven and that hell, which isn’t spoken about much in our time, exists and is eternal for those who close their hearts to his love,” the Pope said.
In his 1968 book, “Introduction to Christianity”, Pope Benedict described hell as a state of existential abandonment, “the loneliness into which love can no longer reach”.