This isn’t 1 April: Vatican spokesman clarifies that Pope Francis hasn’t abolished sin.

Sometimes the truth is weirder than fiction.

I saw it first at Newsmax and hunted up the links.

On 30 December atheist editor of La Reppublica, Eugenio Scalfari, wrote in an editorial piece entitled  “La Rivoluzione di Francesco – Ha abolito il peccato … “Francis’ Revolution – He abolished sin” HERE

(You will recall that Scalfari printed an “interview” with Pope Francis, during which he didn’t record anything or make notes and subsequently got a bunch of things wrong, cooked up in his ideologized imagination.  The Holy See, ridiculously, put the interview on the Vatican website as if it were some sort of magisterial document and later took it down.  Bottom line: Scalfari gets it wrong… a lot.)

Fr. Lombardi, the papal spokesman, responded that the Pope really didn’t abolish sin.  HERE

Scalfari responds to the response. HERE  Thus, they sell more newspapers.

Newsmax reports it this way:

Vatican Stresses That Pope Has Not Abolished Sin

The Vatican felt compelled on Tuesday to deny that Pope Francis had “abolished sin”, after a well-known Italian intellectual wrote that he had effectively done so through his words and gestures.

The singular exchange began on Sunday when Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist who writes opinion pieces for the left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper, published an article titled “Francis’ Revolution: He has abolished sin”.

Scalfari, who held a long private conversation with the pope earlier this year and wrote about it several times, concluded in the complex, treatise-like article that Francis believed sin effectively no longer existed because God’s mercy and forgiveness were “eternal”.  [In your dreams, Gene ol’ buddy, ol’ shoe.]

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio that “this affirmation that the pope has abolished sin” was wrong.

“Those who really follow the pope daily know how many times he has spoken about sin and our (human) condition as sinners,” Lombardi said.


Pope Francis also often talks about Hell.

To be clear, Pope Francis sure thinks that homosexual acts are sinful.  He also thinks that people who are divorced and remarried can’t shouldn’t be given Holy Communion.

And Former-Father Greg Reynolds is still excommunicated.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Goat Rodeos, Lighter fare and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. mamajen says:

    And let’s not forget him telling Curial officials to hear confessions! Kind of pointless if people aren’t sinning anymore.

  2. MikeD says:

    Might it be the case that Scalfari appreciates and has detected the logical outworking of certain erroneous conceptions of conscience better than those in the Church?

  3. lana says:

    Right, mamajen. In the article that quotes Fr Lombardi, he says that God’s mercy makes no sense if there is no sin. (my very loose translation)

  4. AngelGuarded says:

    The illogic of begging the question: “Italian intellectual…”

  5. wmeyer says:

    Perhaps Scalfari studied at the feet of the LCWR?

  6. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I honestly intend no uncharitable insinuation by this in any way toward the Pope, but I find it curious how this Scalfari character could so completely and so entirely misrepresent everything the Pope said in his interview with him. Perhaps the Holy Father is recognizing the questionable wisdom of stating off the cuff remarks to atheist secular liberal journalists. Perhaps we will read less about such confusing or contradictory statements like this in the future of his Pontificate and everyone will receive greater clarity from the Pope.

  7. McCall1981 says:

    @Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda,
    That’s exactly what I’m hoping too. I don’t want to jump the gun, but I have been hoping that the Scalfari interview in October was a kind of turning point. Since that time, there haven’t been any “controversial” remarks, and we have got confirmation on a number of positives as well. Perhaps that was when he learned his lesson, so to speak. I would hope that this nonsense today further drives the point home to him.

  8. donato2 says:

    Like Scalfari, Andrew Sullivan has been peddling the notion that Pope Francis is moving the Church toward the post-Catholic modern worldview that there is no such thing as sin. (But of course the only sin that Sullivan really wants to have declassified as sin is sodomy.) Sullivan promotes his view of Francis with ambiguous assertions that are not tethered to specific things that Pope Francis has said. Sullivan will say, for example, something to the effect that Pope Francis is completely revitalizing Catholicism and is ushering in a historic and revolutionary updating of Catholic teaching — and thus intimating, without saying, that Pope Francis is moving the Church toward adopting the feminist/gay rights agenda. Sullivan constantly repeats things of this nature on his blog. He is employing the old “if you tell a lie often enough people will think it is true” strategy. The problem is, of course, that Francis has given people such as Scalfari and Sullivan just enough ammo to work with and has not made any serious effort to shut them down.

  9. Jim Dorchak says:

    It seems that the if the general perception that Sin is Abolished, and that was not the intent, then the messenger is not delivering the message very well? [Given Scalfari’s reporting, who knows what Francis really said?]

  10. Jim Dorchak says:

    True Father, true.

  11. MGL says:

    I have no affection for Scalfari, but many people seem conveniently to have forgotten that he showed the interview text to the Holy Father for approval before he published it.
    You can argue (rightly, in my view) that Scalfari was derelict in not having recorded the conversation or taken notes, but it seems clear there’s no serious journalistic malpractice here.

    I point this out because it is now de rigeur in the Catholic commentariat to disregard the Scalfari interview due to it being an “after-the-fact reconstruction”. But if a journalist interviewed me without equipment, then wrote up his recollections of our conversation and sent it to me for corrections and approval prior to publication, it would be reasonable to conclude that the published reconstruction was a fair characterization of my view.

    This is the situation we are in with the Holy Father. Scalfari did what he should have done in the post-interview circumstances, and I’m not sure how people can get away with blaming him for (conjectured) errors in the text. He also said at the time that “it’s not clear how closely the Pope read [the interview].” But how is it Scalfari’s fault if the Pope approved the interview without reading it carefully?

  12. Mr. Green says:

    MGL: But if a journalist interviewed me without equipment, then wrote up his recollections of our conversation and sent it to me for corrections and approval prior to publication, it would be reasonable to conclude that the published reconstruction was a fair characterization of my view.

    Well, perhaps you should run for Pope. But you might find that it puts many demands on your time, leaving little room to sub for the editor of La Reppublica. Perhaps the Pope merely glanced at it, assuming the paper had done its job properly. Perhaps he accepted the word of some lackey that the report was OK. But none of that absolves Scalfari from his responsibility, both ethical and journalistic, to take notes if he needed them and not to report his own paraphrases as quotations.

  13. MGL says:

    Mr. Green,

    My experience is that we wouldn’t apply your standard to any other public figure. Take Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Gates, or Richard Dawkins (please): If we were informed that one of these busy gentlemen had been allowed the opportunity to review an interview text before publication, most people (in and out of the media) would assume that the published text accurately reflected his views. To take our hypothetical further, imagine that the interview text had stood for several months without protest, correction, or further explanation from the gentleman in question. What conclusion would a reasonable person reach?

    Please forgive my blunt approach, but if the Holy Father has time to make impromptu telephone calls to journalists and even sit down for interviews with them, he certainly has time to ensure the interview text accurately reflects his sentiments. As to the negligence conjecture (that the Holy Father “assum[ed] the paper had done its job properly”), how on earth is this meant to reassure us? Firstly, we have no evidence whatsoever that this is the case; secondly, would we accept this confession of irresponsibility (which the Holy Father, to his credit, has not made) from any other public figure? I repeat, approval before publication and the interview has now stood as published, without retractions or objections, for three months.

    As to the ethics of the unrecorded interview itself, the Holy Father had a number of options at his disposal:

    – He could have made it clear that he had not approved the interview for publication, in which case we would be free to regard it as at best an unreliable paraphrasing, and at worst a fabrication.
    – He could have struck out all inaccurate quotation marks in the review, and instructed Scalfari to modify the text to make it clear that he was conveying impressions; e.g., as we sat down, Pope Francis assured me that he had no intention of using the opportunity to proselytize to me, adding that such tactics had too often backfired in the past.
    – He could have corrected or deleted any gross inaccuracies.
    – Even following publication, the Holy Father could have issued corrections or explanations.

    Here’s the thing: as far as we know, Pope Francis may have amended the text or asked for corrections. For all we know, we already have the corrected, fully accurate interview text. We have just as much evidence for this possibility as we do for the negligence hypothesis; that is to say, zero.

    What we do have is a pre-approved, uncorrected, unretracted interview.

  14. Mr. Green says:

    MGL: My experience is that we wouldn’t apply your standard to any other public figure.

    Well then, we ought to. Even Dawkins would get my sympathy for being falsely “quoted”.

    Firstly, we have no evidence whatsoever that this is the case;

    No, we don’t have any direct evidence about what Pope Francis himself did, so we must refrain from casting aspersions as though we did. I daresay he will be more cautious in the future. What we do know is that Scalfari has no recording or notes and yet presented direct quotations. This is admitted, so we know that he acted irresponsibly. He was the interviewer, he was the writer, he was the editor. He had a grave responsibility to represent the Pope accurately. “I almost got away with it” is not a justifiable excuse.

  15. MGL says:

    All right, Mr. Green. To close this off from my end:

    Even Dawkins would get my sympathy for being falsely “quoted”.

    We have no evidence whatsoever–none–that there are any false quotations in the interview, or that the Holy Father is in any way materially misrepresented as to what he said. If Dawkins (etc.) approved an interview text prior to publication, we would not continue to speculate about “false quotations”, unless and until he issued retractions or clarifications.

    As to the accusation of casting aspersions against Pope Francis, well–I’m not the one who’s suggesting that he failed to perform basic due diligence on an interview text! I make the simple observation that since the Holy Father had the opportunity to review the text prior to publication, and has not subsequently issued any corrections, clarifications or retractions, we can do him the basic credit of presuming that the published text accurately reflects his views.

  16. Mr. Green says:

    MGL: We have no evidence whatsoever–none–that there are any false quotations in the interview, or that the Holy Father is in any way materially misrepresented as to what he said.

    Ah, OK. Well, if everything is fine, then there is nothing to complain about on any side, so there shouldn’t be any problem. But in fact there still is one thing: Scalfari put his own admitted paraphrases in quotation marks — that is, he claimed (by use of quotations) that certain words were the Pope’s verbatim remarks, when they were not. This is irresponsible, no matter how lucky he may or may not be.

  17. Pingback: PopeWatch: Sin is Still Sin | The American Catholic

Comments are closed.