Another Francis interview… with Scalfari… again. Hey LOOK! There’s a pony!

From the Holy See Presss office via ZENIT:

Vatican City, July 13, 2014

The Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, issued the following statement this morning in relation to an article on Pope Francis published today in the Italian daily, La Repubblica:


“In the Sunday edition of “La Repubblica” an article by Eugenio Scalfari [The aging atheist who doesn’t take notes.] was prominently featured relating a recent conversation that took place with Pope Francis. The conversation was very cordial and most interesting and touched principally upon the themes of the plague of sexual abuse of minors and the Church’s attitude toward the mafia.

However, as it happened in a previous, similar circumstance, it is important to notice that that words that Mr. Scalfari attributes to the Pope, “in quotations” come from the expert journalist Scalfari’s own memory of what the Pope said and is not an exact transcription of a recording nor a review of such a transcript by the Pope himself to whom the words are attributed.

We should not or must not speak in any way, shape or form of an interview in the normal use of the word, as if there had been a series of questions and answers that faithfully and exactly reflect the precise thoughts of the one being interviewed.

It is safe to say, however that the overall theme of the article captures the spirit of the conversation [Like the spirit of Vatican II?] between the Holy Father and Mr. Scalfari while at the same time strongly restating what was said about the previous “interview” that appeared in La Repubblica: the individual expressions that were used and the manner in which they have been reported, cannot be attributed to the Pope.

Let me state two particular examples. We must take into consideration two affirmations that have drawn much attention and that are not attributed to the Pope. The first is that among pedophiles are also “some cardinals”; and the second regarding celibacy: “I will find solutions.”

In the article published in La Repubblica, these two affirmations are clearly attributed to the Pope but curiously, the quotations were opened at the beginning but were not closed at the end. We must ask ourselves why the the final quotations are not present: is this an omission or explicit recognition that this is an attempt to manipulate some naïve readers?


La Repubblica article: HERE

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  1. iPadre says:

    A decent journalist would use a recording device, so that they can quote the actual words and not call upon some “spirit” of what the person said.

  2. robtbrown says:

    . Italian journalism is often very impressionistic, not so much what happened or what was said as much as the journalist’s impression of it. In a way it’s probably more honest than American journalism,which claims to be objective but is not: It uses quotes and objective events but inserts its own prejudices by means of redaction

  3. TNCath says:

    If Scalfari is going to continue to misquote Pope Francis and going to be continually corrected by Fr. Lombardi, then WHY is the Pope (or Fr. Lombardi) allowing these interviews to continue to take place?

  4. Back pew sitter says:

    I’ve read a few items recently (in the Catholic Herald and Fr Ray Blake’s blog and other places) in which it was suggested that loyalty to the Holy Father is at times best displayed by silence. And then you read about something like this and want to scream! But maybe I should just be silent and pray….

  5. Eliane says:

    “If Scalfari is going to continue to misquote Pope Francis and going to be continually corrected by Fr. Lombardi, then WHY is the Pope (or Fr. Lombardi) allowing these interviews to continue to take place?”

    Someone either (1) has a very short memory or (2) is happy to sew confusion. I can’t think of a (3).

  6. KevinSymonds says:

    I second what TNCath said.

  7. JustaSinner says:

    Is Francis stupid?

  8. excalibur says:

    Amen TNCath. The Pope gives another interview to this guy and then complains through his spokesman? Something isn’t right. His Holiness needs to act his age and stop these interviews with people who do not take notes. It is very harmful to the faithful, very harmful. I do not judge, but I do not see how Our Lord can be happy with this happening over-and-over. Prayers for Francis.

    Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

  9. Gerard Plourde says:

    @ JustaSinner – I don’t think that Pope Francis is stupid. I think that two things are operating here. First, as Fr. Z points out the reporter (who works for a major Italian daily) does not take notes and potentially comes with a known bias. Combine this with the 24 hour news cycle which of necessity feeds on rumor and gossip in its pursuit of novelty and the result is almost foreordained. Unfortunately, limiting interviews isn’t a solution either because the news reporters will then seek out unofficial sources to create stories based even more on rumor and gossip that conceivably could be even worse. News reporters on both the Left and the Right can and do succumb to this temptation. It might be best to heed the advice of the blogger at Te Deum Laudamus who writes relative to a story about the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne (who incidentally received his Red Hat from Pope Benedict), “The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that rash judgment, detraction, and calumny are all sinful – sometimes gravely sinful (CCC 2477-78). I think we are seeing many manifestations that Catholics do not understand sins against the 8th Commandment, especially as they can occur on the internet. We, on the internet, need to slow down and start questioning sources and accuracy of quotes.” Posts like this one by Fr. Z are a welcome corrective.

  10. JustaSinner says:

    @Gerard Plourde:
    Thank you for proving my point…

    1. He had this happen one other time (Fool me once, shame on you…)
    2. Then gives an interview to the SAME MAN knowing he doesn’t ‘take notes’? (Fool me twice SHAME ON ME!)

    Finally, why give this guy ANY interviews considering his known bias against religion/The Church? You mean to tell me in this “24/7” news cycle world, HE’S IT? Sheesh, Fr. Z would be a better interviewer; so would my cat.

  11. Lavrans says:

    Well, for what its worth, St. Peter did a lot of dumb things too, not the least of which was denying our Lord! As Archbishop Sheen said, the weakest link in the chain of pope is Peter, and he is held in the hand of Christ, and that is why the papacy will never fall. His Holiness will be fine and they will clean up this latest mess.

    What sucks is for us laity and priests out in the world dealing with the secular and rabidly-anti-Catholic media, who will ignore the clean-up and pummel us with these quotes. Essentially, it is another blow to our credibility, which is already a smoldering crater thanks to the mishandling of the abuse crisis.

    The gates of Hell shall not prevail, but they sure do torch our backsides quite often.

  12. SimonR says:

    I do not think that Francis is a good Pope.
    Today ‘s episode is just plain embarrassing.
    And there was the episode a few days ago with the evangelicsls where Francis said that he is not interested in them converting to Catholicism.

  13. marcpuckett says:

    Silence is sometimes the best response, sure, but on the other hand, haven’t Rome and the Bishops been telling us for forty years that we lay people need, respectfully and responsibly, to raise our voices and tell the Pastors what we hear and experience in our Catholic lives in the city outside the episcopal palaces? What I ‘hear’ is that the Roman Pontiff has sown doubts about the Latin Church’s tradition of clerical celibacy– whether the Pope himself thinks some reform might be useful, or because of some defect in Dr Scalfari’s reporting of the conversation– and it is unsettling.

    And whose idea was it for Pater Lombardi to issue a démenti? which just aggravates the problem, so far as I can see. Now I’m going to be silent.

  14. Mike says:

    SimonR says: . . . And there was the episode a few days ago with the evangelicsls where Francis said that he is not interested in them converting to Catholicism.

    Yeah, I was jarred by that one too. It would appear safe to assume that there are plenty besides me worrying about that snippet, and making no bones about letting the Pope know how they feel. Rather than add my voice to those trying to catechize the Bishop of Rome, I think that, after saying a prayer for resignation to the Divine Will, I will leave the care of the Holy Father’s soul to his confessor, his Guardian Angel, and the Holy Spirit, and the intercession of our Blessed Mother.

    More relevant to me is what I am supposed to do when such opportunities for witness arise with evangelicals. The chances for that seem more frequent these days, as “evangelical” mainstream churches parrot the extreme left with increasing crankiness, while more fundamentalist bodies home in (as they always have) on their leaders’ pet points of view rather than on the fullness of the Gospel.

    My inclination is to explain, after the fashion of Dr. Scott Hahn, the vitality to my faith of the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist. If that’s a pitch for conversion, I pray for humility and fortitude, but I’m not inclined to back down.

  15. servulus indignus Christi says:

    God help us. So much for the 4 cardinal virtues…isn’t one of them called ‘prudence’?

    A hundred and one other things I’d like to say…but I’ll just limit myself to a speechless and painfelt, “wow”.

    Our Lady of Fatima pray for us!

  16. incredulous says:

    I’m very confused by the Pope. I agree with TNCATH’s question. Why? There is a reason. At Rorate they have their take on it, of course.

    I just don’t get Pope Francis’ message. If two percent of the priests are pedophiles, what in blazes is he going to do about it? [And just how does he know that?] Also, isn’t it about time that this perversion of the tight association between the mafia and the Church as well as between apostate politicians such as Sebelius, Pelosi and Cuomo and the Church come to an end?

    What does God expect out of us in terms of tolerating this absolute BS in the Church? I am really confused.

  17. SKAY says:

    Given the history of this reporter, why can’t Pope Francis insist on recording the interview for himself before even granting the interview? Is there a reason why he would or could not do that?

  18. MGL says:

    Before we let loose on Scalfari again, we should remember that the first interview was submitted to the Holy Father for review prior to publication. In any other field of life, we would assume that the resulting published text accurately reflected the sense of the conversation. In addition to this, there have been zero corrections, clarifications, or retractions from the Vatican in the nine intervening months. On the basis of these two facts, it’s reasonable to assume that the first interview is accurate, if not verbatim then at least with respect to the intentions of the participants.

    The fact of the second interview provides further evidence that the first interview was accurate. Pope Francis is certainly not a stupid man, and one doesn’t get to be first a priest, then an archbishop, then a cardinal, without picking up a great deal of first-hand knowledge about human nature. If the Holy Father went back to Scalfari for another on-the-record chat, this time in the certain knowledge that Scalfari operates without notes, and the Pope does not insist on a recording or a written, signed transcript, we have to conclude he’s comfortable with Scalfari’s competence to convey his meaning. We don’t yet know if this interview was submitted for review, but that would be an interesting question for someone to ask Fr. Lombardi!

  19. Gretchen says:

    Perhaps it is a matter of “Good Cop, Bad Cop.”

  20. Robbie says:

    I just don’t understand what’s going on in the Vatican these days. It’s nothing but confusion, backtracking, and corrections when it comes to an interview involving Francis. We joked about this the last time, but has WDTP(rayer)RS become WDTP(ope)RS. If not, it may be time for the Vatican to register that domain name.

    As for this interview, why in the world did the Pope speak to this person again? And that’s especially true if Scalfari really did make up some of the more controversial comments from their first go around. To be honest though, I have my doubts whether that was actually the case. And I have my doubts Scalfari pulled these comments completely out of thin air. Noting there was not a closing of the quotation seems like a technicality to me.

    I tend to share the view of Rorate. Francis is a skilled media manipulator and I think he knew just what he was doing. Much like putting communion for the divorced and remarried out in the public domain to be hashed over, I think it’s possible he did just that with priestly celibacy. Now it’s out in the open for all to discuss and he gets to see what the reaction is.

  21. Elizabeth D says:

    I love ponies. I don’t understand Francis. But I think the Evil One has been clever getting faithful Catholic blogs and aggregator sites (Pewsitter) to make demoralizing headlines out of every weird thing the Pope may (or may not) have said. I’d rather look at a pony.

  22. jhayes says:

    Haven’t heard of the Waldensians in a while (from the Scalfari interview)

    È passata un’ora e mi alzo. Il Papa mi abbraccia e mi augura di risanare al più presto. Ma io gli faccio ancora una domanda: Lei, Santità, sta lavorando assiduamente per integrare la cattolicità con gli ortodossi, con gli anglicani… Mi interrompe continuando: “Con i valdesi che trovo religiosi di prim’ordine, con i Pentecostali e naturalmente con i nostri fratelli ebrei”.


    An hour went by and I stood up. The Pope embraced me and said he hoped I’d be back to good heath soon. But I asked him one more question: Holiness you are working hard to build relations between Catholicism and the Orthodox, the Anglicans…he [the Pope] broke in and continued ” …with the Waldensians , whom I find really devout, with the Pentecostals and, naturally, with our Jewish brothers”.

    I haven’t found an official translation, so I give you mine. If someone has a better idea of what Scalfari had in mind when he wrote “integrare la cattolicita”, please jump in.

  23. Cath says:

    Sadly, these episodes do not surprise me any longer. I only read the entire article because I thought I would get to see the pony :)

  24. Charles E Flynn says:

    Next time, will someone please bring an adequate supply of wet clay and small wedges, so that an archival record can be made of what was said?

  25. jhayes says:

    [And just how does he know that?]

    According to Scalfari, Francis said that that’s what his staff has told him.

    “”Molti miei collaboratori che lottano con me mi rassicurano con dati attendibili che valutano la pedofilia dentro la Chiesa al livello del due per cento. ”

    [I repeat my question.]

  26. Juergensen says:

    I guess I was just spoiled with JPII and B16. Their remarks rarely if ever needed clarification. [Are our memories that short? Those pontificates had their problems.]

  27. Anchorite says:

    It is perfectly possible that Francis’s approach is to create a “holy mess” by accentuating divisions. Once there is a division, people start taking sides. Francis can now (better than ever) see which ones are on “his” side, and which ones are on the side of “B16” and “tradition/conservatism.” It allows him a wonderful measure of control. He loves applause coming from the secularists more than he loves your bouquets of rosaries. He is not stupid, he is just not very profound. He is no fan of the old mass because it is anything but superficial. It takes an effort. Francis wants what every populist “Catholic” hierarch wants – perception of success, personal and ecclesiastical. “Yes, V2 was a success!” – these people will not stop saying it. Just like Obama would rather give a speech in Cairo than a Fox interview. OB despises conservative Americans. Francis despises “the old stuff” – you can see it on his face when he uses Latin, rarely. Francis also despises his “opposition,” because they “judge” his every move. Scalfari and his circle praise Francis’s every move. Bergoglio is a V2 dinosaur: bad artistic and cultural taste, sour face, and a insatiable desire for world’s approval.

  28. Johnno says:

    The very first troublesome Scalfari interview has been put back up on the Vatican website… will wonders never cease?

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