UPDATE: 2013 Scalfari Interview now BACK on the Vatican website. Why?

Originally Published on: Jul 16, 2014 @ 11:36

17 July: The interview has been removed.  More below.


Can someone explain to me why the first Scalfari Interview from October 2013 is once again back on the Vatican’s website under the official category of the Holy Father’s speeches? HERE

It had been on the website. There are problems with that interview. The interviewer says he didn’t take any notes or record it.  Nevertheless he put “” around the Pope’s words.

How does that work, especially when the interviewer is an inveterate and notorious left-leaning atheist?

The interview was taken down. HERE

Now it is back.


Is that interview to be considered now in some respect part of the Holy Father’s Ordinary Magisterium?


I remind the readership that I recommended the riveting book

UPDATE 17 July:

It seems that the interview has been – once again – removed from the Vatican site, at least from under the Holy Father’s official “speeches”:

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  1. Faith says:

    No it’s not Magisterium, but rather Jesuiticum.

  2. Faith says: Jesuiticum

    No. I guess that you are implying that this is some sort of Jesuit thing, maybe even a “plot” of the Pope himself.

    I doubt that.

    I suspect this is more a matter of one hand in the Secretariat of State not knowing what the other hand is doing.

    But… why? And why now?

  3. MGL says:

    Because I never tire of pointing this out, the Scalfari interview was provided to the Holy Father for review, prior to publication. It’s entirely reasonable to assume that it reflects their conversion quite accurately, if not verbatim.

    Likewise, in light of the fact that Pope Francis recently, of his own free will, went back to Scalfari for yet another on-the-record conversation, the most likely explanation for the reappearance of the first interview that the Holy Father wants it there.

    [Would you please provide a link to something that says that the the Holy Father reviewed it and approved it? Thanks.]

  4. Supertradmum says:

    I would like to know this as well. I just referred to this interview on my blog yesterday as false and spurious. I think media marxists and schismatics want to derail the upcoming meeting on the family and marriage, etc.

    The art of propaganda is simply repeating something over and over until people believe it is true.

  5. Andrew says:

    On the Vatican website, the Latin text of St. Pope John Paul II’s encyclical titled “Ecclesia de Eucharistia” under No. 2 still today reads “pro omnibus” (for all) instead of “pro multis” (for many) – even though the official text in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis reads “pro multis”.
    Clearly, in that instance, the Pope’s words had been manipulated by someone with a personal agenda and access to the website.

    Clearly, Popes cannot personally oversee everything that is being done in their name. They should be surrounded by people they can trust, but is that the case?

    [Good catch. I have written about this before, but it had slipped my mind.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  6. jhayes says:

    MGL wrote It’s entirely reasonable to assume that it reflects their conversion quite accurately, if not verbatim.

    I agree. Back then, Father Lombardi said it “should be considered faithful on the whole to the mind of the pope, but not necessarily in its particular words and the accuracy of its details.”

    Regarding the most recent interview, Fr. Lombardi said essentially the same thing – that it:“captures the spirit of the conversation” but “individual expressions that were used and the manner in which they have been reported cannot be attributed to the pope”.

    Both quotations are from the Catholic Herald article of 14 July, 2014.

  7. Gerard Plourde says:

    To my knowledge, the only interview that was submitted to Pope Francis for review prior to publication was the one conducted by Fr. Antonio Spadaro which was carried by the various Jesuit magazines (America (US) and Thinking Faith (UK) being the English-language publications).

  8. Robbie says:

    When I read this yesterday, it came as a real shocker to me. Like many, I had come to believe (or maybe it’s hoped) Scalfari had taken the Pope’s words in the their first interview out of context and manipulated them for his own benefit. In that light, I simply couldn’t understand why Francis would once again give an interview to this person. The only reason that came to mind was, in fact, he was happy with the way the story had been written.

    Right now, my inclination leans toward the belief the Pope probably said the things Scalfari has reported. Maybe Scalfari sensationalized some parts, but why else would Francis travel down this road again if he felt he had been wrong? Maybe I’m out to lunch on this issue (wouldn’t be the first time) but a story just written by Edward Pentin mentioned the possibility of a similar line of thinking. I won’t link to the story, but here is the relevant part.

    “The overlooking of the obvious has led some to speculate that a possible strategy might be at play. This could entail using Scalfari’s foggy memory, radical views and tendency towards sensationalism to exaggerate certain issues in order to provoke a debate while avoiding the possibility of pinning anything on the Pope. This is unlikely but not impossible, and many Catholics would consider it scandalous if true, causing an unnecessary amount of confusion.”

  9. qmbarque says:

    I would very much like to see the document that holds that the contents of the Vatican website are in any way “official” or part of any pope’s ordinary Magisterium. The interview goes up and then it goes down. So what? Maybe someone thought that by maintaining a copy on the site, it would be easier to “control the story” — if that’s possible — or at the very least, invite those interested in the interview to link somewhere else on the Vatican site rather than being directed to buy Italian perfume. Sheesh.

  10. jhayes says:

    Regarding taking down and putting back up:

    Back last October, Vatican Insider quoted Fr. Lombardi as saying that it was the Secretariat of State which made the decision about whether the interview should be on the website, although it isn’t a hundred percent clear whether he means they decided to post it or to take it down.

    The Vatican Insider article was published on October 15, 2013, which was Cardinal Bertone’s last day in office. We now have a new Secretary of State and new allocations of responsibility.

    In response to journalists’ questions about the reason for this decision, the Holy See’s spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi replied: “The information in the interview is reliable on a general level but not on the level of each individual point analysed: this is why it was decided the text should not be available for consultation on the Holy See website. Its removal is a final update on the nature of this text. Some mistakes were made regarding its value, which was questioned. The Secretariat of State took the decision.”

    Ever since the interview was published, Fr. Lombardi declared that the Pope had not [not] looked over the text personally. Scalfari had sent the text to the Vatican.

  11. “Is that interview to be considered now in some respect part of the Holy Father’s Ordinary Magisterium?”

    Now? Does the Holy Father’s Ordinary Magiserium now vary from day to day? Is this any way to run God’s eternal Church?

  12. jhayes says:

    Should have included this:

    Lombardi denied that the decision to remove the interview from the Vatican website was taken at the request of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Ludwig Müller.

  13. Phil_NL says:

    As the Vatican has a tech department with “yesterday’s technology tomorrow!” as its motto (I think I’m paraphrasing our esteemed host here, btw) [Indeed.] I wouldn’t be suprised if it was as simple as someone restoring the backup, not reslising that restored deliberately removed content too.

    It would be interesting to see if more previously removed articles are up again.

  14. Dundonianski says:

    MGL My thoughts exactly-following the earlier interview there was no disaccord/correction/dissent nor qualification whatsoever by Fr Lombardi on the Pope’s behalf /behest. The Scalfari -Francis interview was not removed from the website for some weeks. Without wishing to give credit to Scalfari it may be less than charitable to suggest that he (Scalfari) is or has been “economical with the truth” For the Pope to repeat the process suggests, not unreasonably to me, that he trusts the integrity of the distinguished albeit atheist journalist!

  15. FrNathan says:


    This is a link to the NCRegister article about the October interview (11/22/2013). Mr. Scalfari says [SCALFARI says? Big deal. Gratis asseritur….]that he sent the interview and was told that Pope Francis gave permission for it to be published. Whether or not the Holy Father actually read the interview is not clear, only that he permitted publication.

    [Did the Holy See Press Office confirm this?]

  16. haribo says:

    The pope is shrewd enough to know what he’s getting into when he sits down with a reporter. There were inaccuracies in what Scalfari’s last interview recorded, but obviously these don’t bother the pope enough to not grant him a second interview. My guess is that we care about this much more than Pope Francis, and that the pope wants it retained because the message it communicates is what Francis wants the world to hear.

    We need to stop blaming the media for how Francis is being cast. The pope is choosing to use them as a tool with full knowledge of how they’ll spin his words. The fact that he went to Scalfari a second time shows that the media’s twist is very much part of the message he intends to communicate. Otherwise, he would have “learned his lesson” a year ago. If someone has a problem with what they read in the paper about the Pope, they should be pinning it on Francis, not the messenger.

  17. haribo: Maybe. But…. what’s the point? What’s the upside?

  18. TNCath says:

    I’m afraid there is not much of an “upside” to this. The best interview of a Pope I’ve ever read/watched was Raymond Arroyo’s interview with then-Cardinal Ratzinger, just a few years before he became Benedict XVI. I wish Mr. Arroyo might be given another chance with Pope Francis to clarify some of the statements the Holy Father made in this interview. It seems to me that His Holiness is purposely being vague and general in his responses. Why? I don’t know. In an age where people are looking to the Church for answers, we don’t seem to be getting many lately.

  19. Joseph-Mary says:

    This is all disappointing. I would like the Pope to perhaps have a nice SILENT retreat! But he seems to meet with atheists and pagans and many others but there is no space for some certain faithful Catholics and that is a shame. The Pope is not dumb. He allows these interviews and he knows there is no exact recording and he also knows that things will be published and then what is published is not denied and the faithful are left to scratch their heads and try to put a good spin on things. It just keeps happening over and over and over.

  20. Deacon Augustine says:

    Fr. Z: “But…. what’s the point? What’s the upside?”

    Fr., perhaps he’s giving room for “serene theology done on the knees” to blossom and be debated openly, whilst all the time maintaining plausible deniability? Or perhaps he’s teaching us all that we shouldn’t be so fixated on the words of the Pope when all the doctrine is out there for everybody to learn already.

    I can think of other reasons, but charity prevents me from uttering them in a public forum.

  21. MGL says:

    Thanks, FrNathan and jhayes, for your helpful corroborations.

    In a previous thread on this blog, I believe I linked John Allen’s article which repeats Scalfari’s claim that he had “showed the text to Francis for his approval.” I haven’t seem Fr. Lombardi’s denials of this claim that jhayes cites, but it appears that poor Fr. Lombardi is often out of the loop!

    From the same article, all emphases mine:

    While stressing the basic ‘trustworthiness‘ of [the] interview, Fr. Federico Lombardi … left room … for the possibility of small imprecisions.

    – “Lombardi said … the text accurately captured the ‘sense’ of what the pope had said, and that if Francis felt his thought had been ‘gravely misrepresented,’ he would have said so.

    In addition, we have the following lines of evidence, all corroborating the basic reliability of the first Scalfari interview:

    Neither the Vatican nor the pope himself have offered any clarifications, corrections, or retractions of the original interview, except for one thing I had previously forgotten: the claim that Francis had had a mystical experience “in the room next to the one with the balcony overlooking the square.” The Vatican was quick to point out that there is no such room, and the pope never left the Sistine Chapel. But this correction actually strengthens the case for the basic accuracy of the first interview, since the Vatican could easily have made other corrections if they felt the need to do so.

    – When the interview was first taken down, Fr. Lombardi said that it was “reliable on a general level, but not on the level of each individual point analyzed,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.

    – The interview is now back up on the Vatican website.

    – The Holy Father has since, apparently on his own initiative, gone back for another unrecorded-on-the-record chat with Scalfari.

    Seriously, were this any other public figure in the world, we would have long ago taken account of all these circumstances and concluded that the interview text is likely to be broadly reliable, though perhaps with an asterisk to indicate some paraphrasing. But as far as I know, no evidence has been provided that Scalfari is unreliable, has a foggy memory, or has acted unscrupulously, so we should probably stop calumniating him as if those things must be true. A veteran journalist does interviews without notes or recordings? If his subjects are happy with this arrangement–and all evidence indicates the pope is perfectly fine with it–what’s it to us?

  22. acardnal says:

    Where has Greg Burke been in all of this mess? I thought he was appointed to clean the social communications up!

  23. CrimsonCatholic says:


    To answer your question, A veteran journalist does interviews without notes or recordings? No. Probably all reporters do one if not both so that there is no inaccuracies . I have never heard an interview, on say the President, that a transcript is not readily available for others to read themselves.

    Also, in the article you posted it states that the Italian Vatican writer Andrea Tornielli is the one that pointed out that there is no such room. The Vatican did not issue that correction, so you can’t claim that the correction strengthens the accuracy of the first interview.

  24. MGL says:


    Pardon my imprecision. Cardinal Dolan said the newly-elected pope never left the Sistine Chapel, Tornielli pointed out there is no such room, and (in John Allen’s update) Vatican spokesman Fr Rosica issued a statement denying the mystical event took place as reported. I’m pretty sure that Rosica’s statement (along with Dolan’s comment) qualifies as an official correction.

    We’ll have to disagree about Scalfari. Some have claimed that this style of impressionistic journalism is a European thing, but I don’t know if that’s true. But it’s not at all implausible to me that a journalist with several decades of experience working without notes would develop a pretty impressive power of recall, perhaps similar to those people brought up in oral cultures (such as the Apostles). As I said, if his subjects are OK with it, so am I.

    But how many straws are left to clutch at? I understand that many people would rather abandon the powers of discernment and common sense they bring to bear in all other situations rather than contemplate the prospect of a pope saying such strange things, but that’s where we are.

  25. tm30 says:

    Occam’s Razor: The Holy Father can easily, directly issue a rebuke of these representations by Scalfari. He has no problem speaking off the cuff and being heard in any setting he happens to be in. He has not done so.

    Ergo, it seems that silence implies consent.

  26. CharlesG says:

    Why do people talk about three Scalfari interviews? I only know of two. What was the third?

  27. MGL says:

    Elliott Bougis provides some background on the various claims and counter-claims relating to the Holy Father’s ostensible approval of the Scalfari interview.

  28. Blas says:

    Re publishing the first interview on the Vatican site is the way the Pope denies the denial of the last interview.

  29. English Hermit says:

    Errrrrrrrr,,,I think it has been taken down again…

  30. MGL says:

    Confirmed. Down again!

  31. CradleRevert says:

    I would love to know what is going on behind the scenes.

  32. KM Edwards says:

    Look, who am I to judge a Pope, but clearly the Holy Father knows what he is doing. If he truly felt he got burned with the first interview, he wouldn’t have done a second one. Presuming he even did an interview of course. I think faithful Catholics cringe at the idea of having to call out Papal indiscretions, but let’s face it, the Lord never said His Vicar on Earth would be perfect. And he is only infallible when speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals. The Church has had truly sinful Popes in the past – some were murderers, others had concubines and even sired offspring. Arguably, that was at least comparable to some of the scandals Francis is making us endure. So as much as we don’t like it we likely have a Holy Father who has very imprudent tendencies or modernistic (I say modernist*ic*, that is a ‘tendency’ towards modernism, I am not declaring myself a self-made Pope and declaring Francis a heretic, as it would not be my place or anyone’s place on today’s earth to do so) inclinations. I don’t like it, I cringe, and yes, I am losing alot of sleep over it. But Our Lady of Fatima gave us a simple directive on this front “Pray, Pray much for the Holy Father”. I pray a small chaplet (Pater, Ave, Gloria) before each Rosary I say for “The Holy Father and Our Bishop dressed in White”, that is Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, to honor this command of Our Lady’s. You can all do that too. Perhaps you can write the Pope a note as well, but I am not sure how influential that might be, although he is apparently known to pick up the phone and chat occasionally.

  33. KM Edwards says:

    You can also all pray a novena to Good St. Anne, Mother of the Immaculate Conception. Her novena starts today July 17, in anticipation of Her Feast Day on July 26.

    She is a mother to all who are tempted to despair and who suffer dejection – her trials for 20 years to conceive and the humiliation she bore, even suffering her beloved husband, St Joachim, to abandon her, so to speak for a few months, while he meditated in the desert about his affliction (not having any children). So if anyone can understand the dejection and humiliation and the temptation to despair that faithful Catholics suffer in this current time, it is Good St Anne. She promises to obtain all the graces necessary for those faithful souls who spread devotion to Her. Go to her with your concerns about the Holy Father.

    Good St Anne, ora pro nobis!
    Novena Prayer to Saint Anne To obtain some special favor

    O GLORIOUS St. Anne, filled with compassion for those who invoke thee and with love for those who suffer, heavily laden with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at thy feet and humbly beg of thee to take under thy special protection the present affair which I commend to thee.

    [State your petition.]

    Be pleased to commend it to thy daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and lay it before the throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy outcome. Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted. Above all, obtain for me the grace of one day beholding my God face to face, and, with thee and Mary and all the Saints, of praising and blessing Him for all eternity. Amen.

    Good St. Anne, mother of her who is our life, our sweetness and our hope, pray to her for us and obtain our request. [Three times.]

    Good St. Anne, pray for us.
    Jesus, Mary, Anne.

  34. Phil_NL says:

    While speculating on the deeper meaning of this can be interesting, and it certainly is questionable if the Holy Father has only dependable people around him, I think my earlier suggestion of a tech mishap might be right on the mark, in light of it’s subsequent removal.

    With luck someone will check the contents of those 5.25 inch floppies next time….

  35. tcreek says:

    Remember — When Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope, Jorge Bergoglio was the choice of the anti-Ratzinger progressives.

    Peter as “Rock” would hardly describe this papacy.

  36. robtbrown says:

    Andrew says

    On the Vatican website, the Latin text of St. Pope John Paul II’s encyclical titled “Ecclesia de Eucharistia” under No. 2 still today reads “pro omnibus” (for all) instead of “pro multis” (for many) – even though the official text in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis reads “pro multis”.

    It uses pro multis because that is what is in the Vulgate. There is no reference for pro omnibus, except the vanities of someone’s imagination.

  37. Imrahil says:

    Dear tcreek,

    while knowledge out of the Conclave is unsafe at best, still according to what I heard this “progressive choice” was rather Card. Martini of Milan, with the present Pope being an attempt for a compromise candidate.

  38. TomG says:

    Imrahil: Yes.

  39. tcreek says:

    I do understand that Cardinal Martini was the “progressive (First) choice” but he had no chance. The “anybody but Ratzinger” “progressive” wing settled on Cardinal Bergoglio.

  40. Rachel K says:

    KM Edwards, thank you for that beautiful novena prayer which is just what I needed today for a particular intention. I also forget often that she is my patron as my second name is Anne, and my daughter is Anna, so we will get on our knees to her!

    Joseph-Mary, “But he seems to meet with atheists and pagans…”
    Erm, that reminded me of something, what was it?
    Oh yes, “Why does he eat[f] with tax collectors and sinners?” (Mark 2:16)
    And the answer? “When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” ”
    I suppose we can’t really knock Pope Francis for following Jesus’ lead on that one!

  41. SimonR says:

    It saddens me to write this, but just what is going on in Rome????

    Please see the latest article from Rorate:


    I have emailed Vatican Radio to ask that they remove the photo immediately.

    Father, I will understand if you do not publish my post given the content of the link.

  42. Kathleen10 says:

    Malachy may turn out to be on the money. Things are bad when one has to hope for the end of the world in order that things are better than one thought.

  43. BenYachov says:

    This is much ado about nothing. The interview is up, it’s down, it’s up & it’s down again.
    Then a ton of bedwetting. [?!? Myopic.]

    I love the Catholic faith. But Catholics……..there is something wrong with you people.

    Oh wait I am “you people” too.

    Dang it!

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