Tornielli calls into question accuracy of Pope Francis’ interview. Fr. Z asks a serious question.

Andrea Tornielli has a piece today at Sacri Palazzi wherein he calls into question the veracity of Scalfari’s account of the interview with Pope Francis.

I don’t have time to translate the whole thing for you at the moment, since I am off to lunch and then to the firing range for some therapy.

However, Tornielli points out that more than one cardinal told him that Francis did not go apart into a room before he accepted the election as Pope during the conclave.  That’s just one point.

However, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, the papal spokesman, responded to a question from journalists, saying:  “It isn’t clear to me that the text of the interview with the Pope on La Repubblica was revised.”

Tornielli goes on to write:

“Lombardi didn’t deny any passage in the conversation, and he explained that the overall reconstruction of the papal affirmations was faithful.  But [NB…] he made it clear that it is necessary to be cautious in attributing with precision to the Pope every single quoted word.”

Is that so?

Then I have to ask:  If we aren’t sure about the exact words of the Pope:

Why the hell is the interview posted on the Vatican’s website in the category of “Speeches” of Pope Francis?!?


Click to go to the page.

What am I missing? Is it just because L’Osservatore Romano also printed it? If so… isn’t that enough? If people need to find it, they can find it there.

If we don’t know for sure that what La Repubblica printed is what Pope Francis actually said, then why is it posted on the Holy See’s website as if it is really a “speech” of Pope Francis?

We now rely on the more or less “faithful” reconstruction of the Pope’s words by an avowed atheist journalist who has for years had a bone to pick with the Catholic Church?

Will the interview be in the Acta too?

I’m just asking because I think it is important that we get the Pope’s words (read:thoughts) right. He’s the POPE, not the neighborhood butcher talking about the movie he saw last night.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Eliane says:

    ” He’s the POPE, not the neighborhood butcher talking about the movie he saw last night.”

    Don’t tell him that.

  2. Johnno says:

    If this is the case, and this is not some vague damage control to appease the scandalized, (And I would dearly like it to be the case), then certainly the Vatican machine continues to blunder it’s way to its own detriment.

    No more interviews for the secular press. They are dogs! Put them on a leash in the yard and feed them with carefully prepared meals with the vitamins and supplements they hate but need.

    It is not proselytism that is nonsese, it is ‘dialoguing’ with the devil! Besides wasn’t the whole point of ‘dialogue’ for the purpose of conversion? But if conversions are not the intention, then isn’t VII’s call for dialogue and openness a form of proselytism? I don’t know where up and down and left and right are anymore…

  3. LuisaP says:

    Elaine, I agree “…don’t tell him that.” Because, being a butcher requires skill (gotta know about the various cuts) and judgment (or you loose a finger)….my best ‘spin’ on Pope Francis is that he is a naive amateur – unfortunately – playing in a very highly professional game.

  4. mamajen says:


  5. asperges says:

    Clearly there are serious problems with Papal and Vatican communications. This is a serious situation and needs to be addressed. It is causing his position to be undermined and he is not helping matters by providing so ready a store of off the cuff and ill-considered remarks.

    Perhaps he is being undermined. Perhaps not. The press are certainly having a field day, but the honeymoon won’t last forever. The “People’s Pope,” as I am told he is known, needs fully to realise the weight and dignity of his office and all that entails. It is not for nothing that world leaders generally keep their silence and only speak occasionally and in measured tones. His predecessors, especially Benedict, provide more than suitable examples of this.

  6. Jim says:

    “Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.”
    – St. Thomas Aquinas

    Just saying…

  7. OrthodoxChick says:

    “I don’t have time to translate the whole thing for you at the moment, since I am off to lunch and then to the firing range for some therapy.”

    Hope you have a great day at the range, Fr. Z. Go show that paper who’s boss!

  8. Choirmaster says:

    “He’s… not the neighborhood butcher talking about the movie he saw last night.”

    I think I would be remarkably more comfortable reading his movie reviews and buying the fruits of his butchery.

  9. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    A very practical suggestion I would make, if ever asked, would be: scrap the whole Vatican website and start completely over. The recent improvements only raised it from terrible to bad.

  10. anilwang says:

    Dr. Edward Peters says: “scrap the whole Vatican website and start completely over. ”

    Yes please. Besides navigation, there are other advantages.

    It would be far better to migrate to something like WordPress or Drupal, since they’re so easy to manage that work could be distributed to a far greater extent, and some cardinals themselves can provide content. These content managers have built in moderation, so reviews of content generation can still happen centrally but the actual work of generating content need not be. This would definitely fix the embarrassingly slow updates (e.g. Summorum Pontificum was only available in Hungarian for the longest time), and allow for the Pope’s vision of decentralizing some Vatican functions without losing control.

  11. Traductora says:

    I think the person who needs to be replaced is Lombardi. Bring back Valls!

  12. DisturbedMary says:

    Jumping Butterballs!!!!

  13. I think I’m off to the firing range myself, Father. The world is too much with me.
    Salutem e longinquo.

  14. iPadre says:

    I agree with Dr. Peters 100%. The Vatican website needs to meet the 21st century.

    I also think if the Holy Father wants to do interviews, let him explain and defend what he means. Many Catholic bloggers are trying to explain/ defend what he meant to say, or what he is really saying. I know a lot of VERY frustrated people. He wants to do interviews, that’s fine, he’s the Pope, he can do what he wants. I don’t really give a flying banana what everyone thinks he wants to say, I want to know what he means by it all.

  15. cajuncath says:

    So, who’s in charge of the store?

  16. anilwang says:

    iPadre says: “I also think if the Holy Father wants to do interviews, let him explain and defend what he means.”

    Great idea! Even if he gave an interview that could be taken the wrong way, having the interview in-house would allow him to annotate the interview with footnotes and cross references to other speeches and the Catechism (to add the needed nuance that he wouldn’t be able to give in an interview).

  17. TomG says:

    anilwang: like *that’s* gonna happen!

  18. RobW says:

    Have fun at the range. As expensive as ammo is its still a lot cheaper than a therapist :)

  19. ppintado says:

    Padre, this detailed critique of the content of the last interview may be worth translating

  20. cyrillist says:

    New banner suggestion: “Not Reading Francis At All.” Good for the blood pressure, I’m told…

  21. VexillaRegis says:

    Why Does The Pope Ramble Such?

  22. anilwang says:

    TomG says: “anilwang: like *that’s* gonna happen!”

    Stranger things have happened, such as the greatest persecutor of the early Church becoming a great saint and writer of most the the Epistles in the New Testament, and Genghis Khan turning back at Rome.

    Using something like WordPress, including all its editing features and plugins is small potatoes. Every parish I visit seems to use WordPress for their parish website, and I would be surprised if none of the G8 run their dioceses with something similar.

  23. Lori Pieper says:

    I agree – if it’s not an official intervention by the Pope, it shouldn’t be up among his official statements on the Vatican web site. The Vatican News site should be enough.

  24. The Cobbler says:

    @anilwang, you sure you’re not thinking of Attila the Hun?

    [unrelated, @omnes]

    Here’s a bright idea: if Francis is big on having conversations in public, why don’t we just ask him if he meant what the English translations of the other side of the conversation’s account of the conversation seems to say? For every interview he gives, let the five best Spanish-speakers among Fr. Z’s readers each pick one quote from a friend, family member or aquaintance about how the Pope has given them license to ignore Church teaching and one quote from a newspaper that suggests the Pope is a heretic (I mean a quote from a newspaper that is for it, so it can’t be dismissed as “obsessed with the small-minded rules” or whatever), find the relevant portion of the interview that they cited or that seems like it may agree with them and translate the English translation into Spanish so His Holiness can see how it sounds that way, and ask if that’s really what he meant. If the Pope doesn’t clarify his statements, he’ll just keep getting these inquiries till he starts making clearer statements in the first place.

    I mean, this isn’t new. People were on here talking about how stuff Benedict said led their non-Catholic friends to say “Your Pope loves me as I am, why do I need to become Catholic?” It’s starting to get a little boring sitting here just reacting, isn’t it?

  25. GAK says:

    I think this Holy Father is a tough, shrewd nut.

    He’s also chatty & informal.

    So, if that’s how it is, I wish he’d crank it up a few more levels.

    He should excommunicate a few more people and tweet it as each ax falls.

    You know?

    He could call them “Valedico” tweets. “Vale, Nancy Pelosi!”

    And we’d all know what it meant.

    I’m not necessarily against chatty and informal. Let’s just spice it up a bit.

  26. Grabski says:

    Wouldn’t WTH work as well as the actual words?

  27. jhayes says:

    Anil wand wrote: “Using something like WordPress, including all its editing features and plugins is small potatoes. Every parish I visit seems to use WordPress for their parish website, and I would be surprised if none of the G8 run their dioceses with something similar.”

    Cardinal O’Malley’s Blog says:

    “Cardinal Seán’s Blog is proudly powered by WordPress
    WP Theme “Fast Lane” design by: beng hafner”

  28. jhayes says:

    Sorry for the typo. Should have been anilwang

  29. slainewe says:

    Do we have our first thoroughly Vatican II pope? So it follows that this papacy will be a fog of “the spirit of Francis,” just as the Church suffers the fog of the “spirit of Vatican II?”

  30. Gretchen says:

    I’ve had the wine. On to a nice short glass of whiskey. Hope and pray the sleep comes.

  31. TNCath says:

    Honestly, I think things are out of control at the Vatican. As for Fr. Lombardi, I’ve never been impressed. Now you have a Jesuit spokesman trying to cover for a Jesuit Pope. The word “Jesuitical” has never been more appropriate.

    Clearly, the Pope needs someone to bounce off the things he says to an orthodox theologian as well as someone with a clue who understands how the press and the common man will interpret what he has said. Are you available, Fr. Z?

  32. Germain Grisez: “I’m afraid that Pope Francis has failed to consider carefully enough the likely consequences of letting loose with his thoughts in a world that will applaud being provided with such help in subverting the truth it is his job to guard as inviolable and proclaim with fidelity. For a long time he has been thinking these things. Now he can say them to the whole world — and he is self-indulgent enough to take advantage of the opportunity with as little care as he might unburden himself with friends after a good dinner and plenty of wine.”

  33. acardnal says:

    I think Prof. Grisez may be right.

    Pope Benedict XVI experienced terrible criticism regarding his remarks at Regensburg vis a vis Islam. I pray the Holy Father Francis will be more discerning and thoughtful when making public remarks.

  34. GAK says:

    That itself strikes me as the kind of comment a renown Catholic thinker might make with his BFFs, at a private dinner, after a glass or two of wine.

    Self-indulgent is a loaded word. (Pope Francis allows himself to have or do whatever he wants?)

    I wouldn’t throw it around on the internet applied to the Holy Father.

  35. GAK says:

    Not to mention his implication about the kind of spirit that was inspiring Pope Francis.

    I think people with influence in the Church need to keep a lid on comments like this. Constructive criticism of the Holy Father is one thing. Descending to the level of, “Well, what you said was confusing so I question the spirit that is influencing you, it certainly is not the Holy Spirit” teeters towards rash.

    How on earth does Grisez know what “spirit” was influencing the Holy Father? We are peeling back the layers of two foreign languages plus questionable interviewers (in both instances, to different degrees) and CERTAINLY questionable editors.

    I would say Pope Francis is impulsive and at times imprudent. Given his position, those are qualities he should address in himself. They are not helpful in a Pope. Still, that’s a far cry from self-indulgent and influenced by evil spirits.

  36. Andkaras says:

    @ Luisa, In this town ,if you want to know anything you ask the butcher. Mamajen yes double face palm. Traductora , Valls?!!,Realy? RomeontheRange,and all you gunners , A bow and arrow and a hay bale really does wonders at steadying the nerves. GAK tough and shrewd yes, nut no,but I’ve bonded to him now you see,because others have been misquoting and misrepresenting me for years. I test people on this occasionally in phone conversations ,I will actually be reading from the Catechism or an encyclical or such and they will still get me wrong when relaying my thoughts to others. Sorry for being so chatty tonight ,I’m going back to read that clerical bedtime story again, it made me happy and gave me peace.

  37. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    It has been said that events and developments happen in the Church very, very slowly. Maddeningly slowly. Approvals to open the process for a proposed Servant of God may take years, even decades. Approbation for apparitions may require decades, possibly centuries. The Church is famous for slow. We are the original ents.

    Well, I’ve decided to take just such an approach – an ent-like approach to the very substantial array of remarks with which the Holy Father has been pleased to bless us. Since there are so many of them, in different contexts, originally in a language other than English, and appearing in print in translations which may or may not be altogether reliable, I have decided it’s probably best to let the dust settle on these informal remarks, and meanwhile devote myself to prayer, study of Sacred Scripture and the writings of the Doctors, and to good works. And if the Holy Father the Pope has said anything which I ought to pay especial attention to, then I hope my Guardian angel will direct me to a reliably translated source, which I will read and prayerfully consider in an ent-like manner.

    God bless us every one.

  38. pannw says:

    I agree with GAK. I’d feel much more at ease with the off the cuff remarks if Pope Francis would start excommunicating the heretics. Actions speak louder than words. I think I’ve said before that I had this feeling that he was disarming the libs with his chatty pastoral self, while his actions have been encouraging, including the march for life, Gyn. meeting speech, excommunicating dissident priest, St. Michael dedication…

  39. Tim Ferguson says:

    Fr. Z,

    Since everyone else seems to be doing it, have you, perhaps, considered writing a letter to the Pope, explaining that you’re a blogger, and that you’d love to do an interview with him?

  40. James Joseph says:

    I actually am the neighborhood butcher and today it is true that I was actually asking someone about movie they might have seen.

  41. RobW says:

    I want to know if the Pope really thinks one of the gravest evils in the world is youth unemployment. I mean…if the youth are aborted then the lack of job openings doesn’t matter much.

  42. StWinefride says:

    Jim says: “Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.”
    – St. Thomas Aquinas

    And music, surely?!

    I first heard this at the Brompton Oratory 3 years ago to the day, after the 11.00 Mass, very beautiful and calming. The organist in this recording, Helmut Walcha, was blind!

  43. Rouxfus says:

    An institute run with such knavish imbecility that if it were not the work of God it would not last a fortnight. [Hilaire Belloc, on the Catholic Church]

  44. Late for heaven says:

    Rouxfus, you made me laugh. Especially since I have been reading some Belloc lately, including his Heresy. Really it is a wonder, nay a miracle that the Church survives at all.

    I realized last night that I am guilty of a lack of the virtue of Hope. I do not know what God intends for us in this current crisis that the Church is going through. I know that my faith in Him is the issue now as always.

    Really my friends, we are allowing every event to disturb our peace and to make us anxious.

    Marion has the right of it. We need more prayer and study and prayer and penance and prayer.

    RobW, I can easily see the evil results of a generation of unemployed, disenfranchised youth. I pray and hope that some of them could discern a call to vocations.

  45. Dave N. says:

    Seems to me that once the “speech” is transcribed in L’Osservatore Romano and/or shows up on the Vatican website, it more or less becomes the words of the Pope, regardless of what he said originally.

  46. Jet41815 says:

    Okay, so I gotta ask:

    1. Do you wear your cassock to the range?

    2. Do you wear a biretta but carry a beretta?

    Hope you had fun at the range.

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  49. ssoldie says:

    The ongoing of chaos and confusion in the progressive ‘catholic church’. Thank you, I will stay with the Holy Roman Catholic Church and the F.S.S.P.X. There I find truth,clarity and hope for my immortal soul.

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