It is been accepted Christian doctrine since the founding of the church, but Pope Francis appears this morning to have abolished Hell.

In a move that will enrage conservative Catholics, the Pontiff told La Repubblicathat the souls of unrepentant sinners were not punished in the afterlife, but simply disappeared.

“Hell doesn’t exist, the disappearance of the souls of sinners exists,” he told Eugenio Scalfari, a 93-year-old atheist philosopher, during a conversation in the Vatican.

It was the fifth meeting between Pope Francis and Mr Scalfari, the founder of one of Italy’s leading newspapers. Mr Scalfari has retired as editor of the Rome daily, but continues as one of its leading writers.

The previous conversations between the two men have also caused controversy and prompted…