‘God has the heart of a father, your father was a good man, he is in heaven with Him,’ the Pope said
Pope Francis comforted a grieving child by telling him that his atheist father is in heaven.
During a visit to Rome’s deprived Corviale district on Sunday, the Pope answered questions from a group of children. One of them, a boy called Emanuele, burst into tears when he met the Pope.
After giving the child a long hug, Pope Francis asked him what was troubling him. Emanuele whispered in the Pope’s ear that his father, who was an atheist, had recently died and he was worried he could be in hell.
Pope Francis asked Emanuele for permission to tell the crowd what he had said, and then announced (according to La Stampa): “If only we could cry like Emanuele when we have pain in our hearts.”
The Pope said that although Emanuele’s father was an atheist, “he had his four children baptised, he was a good man. It’s nice that a son says that about his father, that he ‘was good’. If that man was able to raise his children like that, then he was a good man. God is proud of your father.”
The Pope continued: “God has the heart of a father, your father was a good man, he is in heaven with Him, be sure. God has a father’s heart and would God ever abandon a non-believing father who baptised his children? God was certainly proud of your father, because it is easier to be a believer and have your children baptised than to be a non-believer and have your children baptised. Pray for your father, talk to your father. That is the answer.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire’. The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
“The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion.”