An atheist journalist has reported that Pope Francis questions the very existence of hell. If Francis actually holds this heretical position, he must resign from the papacy. Francis needs to clearly and emphatically reiterate Church dogma, just as he has spoken clearly and emphatically on so many eternal issues and issues of our times.
One of his clearest teachings is in Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home, where he proclaims three messages central to the Christian faith: First, that our planet has been given to us because (as the Catechism puts it) "God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life" -- accordingly we cannot plunder the earth but must be stewards of it. The second message of Laudato Si' is that we must order our world to help the poor. The third message is that the rich are at risk because Mammon relentlessly draws them away from God.
How can we arrange our affairs to protect the planet, care for the poor, and avoid the material temptations of the world? These are prudential questions. Economists can help answer the first two of these questions as they have learned much about how to protect the environment from plunder and how to raise the poor from destitution. They have learned that creating and enforcing property rights is crucial for saving the environment and that economic freedoms are essential for elevating the poor. Solving the third problem is probably the hardest and it's here that economists can learn from the lessons the Church teaches about the four last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell.
About Robert: Editor of the Independent Institute’s new book, Pope Francis and the Caring Society, ROBERT M. WHAPLES is a research fellow at the Independent Institute, co-editor and managing editor for The Independent Review, professor of economics at Wake Forest University, and book review editor and former director for EH.Net.