Pope Francis has reportedly overturned millennia of Catholic teaching and said there is no hell for non-believers and sinners - only nothingness.
The comments, reported in Italian newspaper La Repubblica, were made to his long-time friend, atheist philosopher Eugenio Scalfari.
Mr Scalfari regularly meets with the Pope, but doesn't record or transcribe their conversations.
"Hell does not exist - what exists is the disappearance of sinful souls," the Pope said, according to Mr Scalfari.
"They are not punished, those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and go among the ranks of the souls who contemplate him. But those who do not repent, and therefore cannot be forgiven, disappear. There is no hell - there is the disappearance of sinful souls."
After La Repubblica published Mr Scalfari's claims, the Vatican issued a statement which didn't deny the Pope's alleged comments, but said they should not "be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father".
The Catholic Church has long said hell is real. The Pope just last week warned members of the mafia they'd end up in hell if they didn't give up their lives of crime.
Last year, the Pope said Satan was a real person, "not like mist".
Mr Scalfari is the founder and former editor of La Repubblica, reportedly the Pope's favourite newspaper. He says the Pope and he regularly chat, but like to meet in person for lengthy chats on religion and politics.
According to the Bible, those who sin and fail to accept Jesus Christ as their lord and saviour are "thrown into the lake of fire".