The Conversation

What is heaven?

Illustration of Dante’s Paradiso. Giovanni di Paolo When a family member or a friend passes away, we often find ourselves reflecting on the question “where are they now?” As mortal beings, it is a question of ultimate significance to each of us. Different cultural groups, and different individuals within them, respond with numerous, often conflicting, answers to questions about life after death. For many, these questions are rooted in the idea of reward for the good (a heaven) and punishment for the wicked (a hell), where earthly injustices are finally righted. However, these common roots do not guarantee contemporary agreement on the nature, or even the existence, of hell and heaven. Pope Francis himself has raised Catholic eyebrows over some of his

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