WATCH: What is the Occupancy Rate of Hell?

Pope Francis stirred up controversy with an informal remark concerning hell that he made Jan. 14 in an hourlong live interview with a popular Italian television program.

While acknowledging that this is only his personal view, not “a dogma of faith,” the Holy Father speculated that hell may be empty and expressed the hope that it is the case: “What I am going to say is not a dogma of faith, but my own personal view: I like to think of hell as empty; I hope it is.”

First of all, what is “dogma”?

In brief, a dogma is a declaration of the Church concerning a truth revealed by God that is necessary for our salvation. And while the Pope is only offering his personal speculation about the possibility of hell being empty, which he hopes it is, and he is clear that this is not official Church teaching, it is nevertheless still extremely damaging.

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