The Vatican has issued a strong statement in an attempt to correct reports that the Pope said Hell doesn't exist.
"Hell does not exist - what exists is the disappearance of sinful souls," Pope Francis reportedly told Italian atheist philosopher Eugenio Scalfari.
Mr Scalfari had asked him where "bad souls" go to be punished.
"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," the Pope is quoted as saying.
The comments were reported in Italian newspaper La Repubblica and attracted global attention.
The Vatican said in a statement that the comments were not a "faithful transcription of the Holy Father's words" and the article "was the fruit of his reconstruction".
It said the article was not based on an interview.