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Detail of Hieronymus Bosch, “The Garden of Earthly Delights – Hell” (circa 1480–1505) (via Wikimedia Commons)

A group of artists is collecting signatures on a petition demanding that Pope Francis I abolish hell. Novel as their cause may seem, it is an homage to the late Argentinian artist León Ferrari, who petitioned Pope John Paul II (twice) to do away with hell — the place where, according to Christian theology, all mortals who have sinned during their lifetimes will be forced to spend eternity enduring torture and torment. The new petition originated during the São Paulo Biennial as part of a project by the Argentinian artist collective Etcetera and the Italian philosopher Franco Berardi titled “Erring from God” that included works by Ferrari. They were able to collect 15,000 signatures during the biennial’s three-month run, and are now seeking more support online.

While the history of Ferrari’s attempts to have hell abolished is worth reading in full here, I’ll leave you with the rousing final section of the 2014 petition:

Further still, we ask Pope Francis to help us to eradicate the earthly Hell of Financial Capitalism and of the war which is an everyday experience for billions of beings, indigenous people, workers, the poor, unemployed, victims of war and clerical colonialism.

By means of this petition the undersigned request the total and definitive abolishment of Hell.

Note: in the event that the negotiations between His Holiness and the Eternal Father concluded with the impossibility of abolishing Hell, we ask them to at least allow the redemption of the soul of the artist and his liberation from eternal damnation.

You may sign Etcetera and Berardi’s petition here.

h/t e-flux

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Benjamin Sutton

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...

4 replies on “Artists Petition the Pope to Abolish Hell (Again)”

  1. “hell — the place where, according to Christian theology, all mortals who have sinned during their lifetimes will be forced to spend eternity enduring torture and torment.”

    In the Chatechism of the Catholic Church, the glossary definition of hell is “The state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed, reserved for those who refuse by their own free choice to believe and be converted from sin, even to the end of their lives.”

    I’m not Catholic, but the author’s grasp of that doctrine was so obviously bad I had to just look it up to see for myself.

    1. The author is playing with the popular imaginary since the petition is an artwork that engages some community in an act that can’t really turns into reality. It is more on guilt than on Chatechism..

      1. I was quoting the journalist not the artist. An artist can say the Pope is made of cheese but the journalist writing on the artist shouldn’t explain that the Pope is made of cheese.

  2. Exactly what Ruth said. I read the first paragraph and thought, “this person has such little understanding of basic theology, it’s impossible to even enter into a serious dialogue”.

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