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Cardinal Francis Arinze LifeSiteNews

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ROME, May 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — People who disregard Hell as a place “invented” by the Church to scare people into acting a certain way need to listen to the message from Our Lady of Fatima, said Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria. She showed three shepherd children that Hell exists, and is not empty, he added.

“There are people who don't want us to talk of Hell. But Hell is not something that was invented in the Vatican,” he said in an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews on May 14 in his apartment in Rome. 

May 13, 2017, marked the 100th anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady to three shepherd children. In the course of six apparitions, one per month until October 1917, the Lady instructed the children how to save souls from Hell through prayer and sacrifice, especially praying the rosary. 

The Fatima apparitions were declared “worthy of belief” by the local bishop in 1930 and have been publicly acknowledged and honored by as many as six popes. Pope Francis earlier this year approved the final miracle needed for the canonization of two of the seers, Francisco and Jacinta Marto. He visited Fatima earlier this month for their canonization ceremony. 

Arinze, who is the prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said the Church’s approval of Fatima apparitions shows the importance of the messages given to the children by the Mother of God. 

Of particular importance is Our Lady’s message about the existence of Hell. 

The Cardinal quoted from Sister Lucia, one of the visionaries, who described in a document published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the vision Our Lady showed the three of Hell.  

Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. 

The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror. 

We then looked up at Our Lady, who said to us so kindly and so sadly: “You have seen Hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”

Arinze said that for people to deny the existence of Hell so they can live as they please is like a university student deceiving himself into believing that there is no examination at the end of the year so he can forgo studying. 

“If you do not want to study I promise you that you are going to fail the examination. It is no use saying there will be no exam. There will be. So people won't solve the problem of Hell by saying that it frightens little children, or that they are shocked by it,” he said. 

Arinze pointed out that it is Jesus Christ himself who confirms in the Gospels the reality of Hell as a place “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

“Christ himself said that. He spoke of those who would be thrown out into the exterior darkness. He spoke of those who would be punished for always. And Christ is the son of God. If anybody is merciful, it is he. So, if he said that to us, it is in our own interest to take it seriously,” he said. 

The Cardinal said that God does not send people to Hell, but people themselves “choose to go there.”

“It is those [who go to Hell] who offend God by what we call mortal sin, which is a rejection of God. The person [in Hell is the one] who doesn't want God. [It is] the person invited by God to come, and the person says, ‘no,’ and will not come,” he said. 

Arinze called it a “terrible thing” for a human being – who is created by God to “know him, to love him, and serve him in this world, and to be happy with him forever in the next” – to “frustrate” the purpose of his existence through the “personal choice” of saying no to God. 

During the interview, Cardinal Arinze reflected on Our Lady’s request for the consecration of Russia, saying that if her request had been heeded, it would have spared the world much misery caused by Communism. 

“Communism means the denial of the existence of God, trying to build a system that does not take God into account. Not only that, but one that would positively and aggressively go against God the Creator and also the human person. Because once you deny God, you also damaged the human person, because our greatness depends on God,” he said. 

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“So Communism is known for oppression of the human person, regarding human beings as objects in the economic machine, rather than subjects with rights, persons who have individual status that must be respected, what the United Nations called ‘fundamental human rights,’ rights that come from God, not from people. Communism was against all that.” 

“So those who know history, the number of people killed in one country after another, the world never had it so bad. Obviously then, the Blessed Virgin Mary wanted to save the world from all that. Isn't that serious? When she mentioned Russia, isn't that because that is the center where the problem began?” he added. 

Arinze said that Our Lady’s message at Fatima is just as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. People need to take her message “very seriously” of avoiding sin, praying, and of making reparation for sin. 

“This is the Blessed Virgin Mary speaking. Is that not serious? Which means that she came there to help people so that they pray for sinners and avoid sin, so that nobody will go to Hell. But you don't solve it by saying that there is no Hell. It is like the students who solved the problem of laziness by saying that there is no examination at the end of the year, you see?” he said.