The Holy See: Goat Rodeo

This is just great.   The Communist founder of the anti-Catholic La Repubblica, Eugenio Scalfari had a chat with the Pope.  Scalfari, slightly younger than dirt and no doubt still enjoying a perfect memory so he doesn’t have to – you know – take notes or anything, records Francis as saying that Jesus:

“granted a man of exceptional virtue, was in no way a god… sia pure un uomo di eccezionale virtù, non era affato un Dio.”

The Press Office issued a statement.   Blah blah blah.

Right right… the Lord didn’t walk around shooting light out of His eyes… except when he did on that mountain.  But let that pass.  Never mind the whole issue theandric acts.  You know, those raisings from the dead, healings, stuff like that.

Please… Holy See… just keep doing this.  What a great idea it is to talk to Scalfari on the record.   What could possibly go wrong?

Ed Pentin has the interview in a working translation HERE

I like this part from the interview:

“Once incarnated, Jesus ceases to be a God and becomes a man until his death on the cross.”

Wellll… you know what he means.  Right?   No?  In fact… no, I don’t know what he means.

Scalfari concluded… marvel at this genius…

These talks were all and always reported literally in our newspaper and that is why today I feel the need to remember them, because Francis addresses the theme of ‘Amazonia but broadens the scope and comes to the conclusion that men are substantially all equal and all different. This is the trait that differentiates us from the animal genus to which we belong, we are also endowed with instincts but we do not limit ourselves to these: we have feelings. They can be good or bad, selfish or altruistic; our body and our vital organs develop these moral diversities and create a precious yet completely incorporeal organ that is our Mind. This is the reason why I have once again recalled the interests of Francis in the corporeal and spiritual knowledge of man.

I like my word salad with a light Dijon vinaigrette.

But…it’s a break from the SYNOD… right?

Hey… LOOK!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Lurker 59 says:

    A man has a friend, who is a confidant, and the man has an employee. Both relate contradictory statements about the opinions of this man. To whom do you give credence to? The friend, for the friend, acts out of love in the best interest of the man. The employee acts out of self-interest saying that which will keep his job.

    Pope Francis calls Scalfari a friend. If Scalfari is a friend, then in charity I must accept that his report was done out of love, not malice, and is true. So until Pope Francis directly says otherwise, one is obliged to believe Scalfari reported correctly was said, that, even if not verbatim, it does contain the jist of his friend’s thoughts.

    Additionally: I have seen this before — the idea that the Godhead was so suppressed/renounced/dormant in the incarnation that Jesus was fully man only. It is not unheard of and I wish that I could remember where it stems from but my time at my Jesuit undergrad was long ago. I believe that Fr. Z has brought up this concept before in things he has spoken of against. This might be the fullness of the Holy Father’s thought.

  2. Gab says:

    They have got to be kidding! (Get it? Kid. Goat … okay it was funnier in my head)

  3. Clinton R. says:

    If only it were possible to impeach the Pope.

  4. The Cobbler says:

    “we are also endowed with instincts but we do not limit ourselves to these: we have feelings”

    Uh. Animals have feelings too. Was something here seriously lost in translation? Or are we talking the sort of faux personalism where everyone’s personhood is reduced to emotion?

  5. The Cobbler says:

    Wait a second.

    “a man of exceptional virtue, was in no way a god”

    That’s Pelagianism!

    But is it Promethean? I still haven’t figured that one out yet. Well – probably, considering certain sorts of people have a propensity toward projection.

  6. The Astronomer says:

    Are Larry, Moe, and Curly running the Holy See Press Office?

  7. Grabski says:

    I believe God is shielding us from Francis by keeping BXVI in His palm

  8. iamlucky13 says:

    @ The Cobbler
    “Uh. Animals have feelings too. Was something here seriously lost in translation? “

    Lost in translation, lost in the memory of a 90+ year old, or possibly lost in the comprehension of an atheist who may hear what he wants to hear. It’s really weird.

    @ Lurker59
    “Pope Francis calls Scalfari a friend. If Scalfari is a friend, then in charity I must accept that his report was done out of love, not malice, and is true. So until Pope Francis directly says otherwise, one is obliged to believe Scalfari reported correctly was said”

    Respectfully, I don’t think we have any obligation at all to believe Mr. Scalfari either remembered accurately or reported forthrightly. Rather, if somebody makes an unverified claim about someone that contradicts what they publicly profess (I’m not aware of Pope Francis ever publicly expressing any doubt about Christ’s divinity), if anything I would say we would be obliged toward charitable skepticism.

    Additionally, given Pope Francis’ demonstrated lack of precision with his words, especially in informal situations (eg – airplane press conferences), I could very easily see him making some commentary about God taking on human nature, and it having been misinterpreted the way it has now been reported.

    I think it’s worthwhile to consider what the Catechism says about rash judgement, quoting St. Ignatius: “Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it.”

  9. PostCatholic says:

    And here I thought Pope Francis and I didn’t agree on much about Jesus. Maybe there is a chance of you holding that paten under my chin after all.

    (I jest. And very much doubt this is something the Pope actually said.)

  10. Philmont237 says:

    There’s a saying in Latin American politics, “No coup. No problem.” Francis knows that a papal coup is unthinkable, and he therefore feels he is the most secure head of state in the world. His most ardent opponents are, ironically, those most loyal to his office which gives him even more security. If there were some sort of nonviolent way to remove him from office, like an impeachment or a no-confidence vote, then he would be afraid and be willing to actually compromise. As it is compromise with a Peronist is impossible when he is given the political security enjoyed but our current Pontiff.

    The question is, “How can we LAWFULLY and PEACEFULLY make Francis think that his power is in jeopardy?” Only by figuring this out can we force him to come to the table.

  11. Thomas S says:

    Is it permissible to say the Mass “for the election of a pope” while the current occupant still lives?

    I am so damn sick and tired of this.

  12. Uxixu says:

    I did see a rather amusing remark that seems appropriate: I wouldn’t need notes if the Pope, of all people told me that Christ was man, and not God!

    Francis could have many valid reasons to enjoy the company of a scofflaw like Scalfari without being a heretic… we should in good charity offer him the benefit of the doubt while at the same time recognizing that either he is allowing Scalfari to scandalize in his name without firm correction (this is hardly the first heresy that has been attributed to Francis by him, after all) or that he’s vague (at best) on the most basic dogmas of the Apostolic faith…

  13. SimonK says:

    “Once incarnated, Jesus ceases to be a God and becomes a man until his death on the cross.”

    Maybe, what the Holy Father was trying to say, is this – “when the Second Person of the Trinity became incarnate, he temporarily and willingly suspended the full enjoyment of some of his divine attributes”. For example, he obviously temporarily gave up some of his omniscience (see Matthew 24:36). “cease to be a God… until [he became God again]” could be a way of making that point, in a very poorly worded and confusing way. Maybe the Holy Father mangled the words as they came out of his mouth. Maybe, the mangling instead happened in Scalfari’s memory. Maybe, a bit of both.

  14. bobbird says:

    Let us think clearly: Why does he keep granting interviews to this man if he is causing angst and accusations against the pope? Common sense says that he would denounce and banish him. Instead, he is using him as a way to test public reaction. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” But this is part of his overall plan to create confusion. And it is succeeding. Taken in isolation, ONE incident can be brushed off and forgotten. Taken in toto, the pattern is unmistakable. Time to dust of St. Bellarmino’s hypothetical treatise on heretic popes. He wasn’t a Doctor of the Church for nothing.

  15. Clinton R. says:

    One thing seems certain; the church of Pope Francis bears no resemblance to the Catholic Church founded by Our Lord upon St. Peter. Heresy rules the day. For now. The Day of Wrath is coming.

  16. BrionyB says:

    I used to have a ‘friend’ who had a habit of telling ‘funny’ anecdotes about things I’d supposedly said or done, ranging from misrepresentations to outright fabrications. I could never make her see that this was wrong and hurtful; for her, if it made a good story, that was all that mattered. Unsurprisingly, we’re not friends anymore…

    So I know there are people who are casual, habitual liars, who almost can’t understand the notion of absolute truth and lack any empathy for whether they hurt the feelings or reputation of others, for whom an attention-grabbing narrative trumps everything else. It seems possible that this Scalfari is of that type. What I can’t understand is why the Holy Father would continue to associate with him if so; even if he personally doesn’t mind, there’s the scandal caused to the faithful and the world.

    I just don’t know what to think about this.

  17. Unwilling says:

    Of course, we know by Tradition that Jesus is eternally divine. But a person (not a Pope) could get confused by and go astray with a passage like this. Philippians 2. Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

  18. sibnao says:

    “Precious but completely incorporeal organ, the Mind”
    Irresistibly, “Dr. Strangelove” rose from the bowels of my subconscious, to replay that guy with the southern drawl talking about “our precious bodily fluids.” Oh, satire is just dead.

  19. Lurker 59 says:


    Thanks for the reply. It is good to hash this stuff out.

    The requirement to interpret according to charity goes to Scalfari’s statement. Those who are engaging in calumny are those saying that he is an old man who is befuddled or acting maliciously. It is calumny because such people are implying bad motives and engaging in “ageism” in order to advance their point of view. Scalfari has no less of a right to his good name than Pope Francis.

    Let’s break things down closer: In this situation, there are three individuals that we are asked to weigh the veracity of their statements.
    1. Pope Francis and his statement that Scalfari is his friend.
    2. Scalfari and his statement that Pope Francis thinks that Jesus was not divine on earth.
    3. The Press Office in that Scalfari is not accurate in his quotes and reconstructions.

    If we give the most weight of veracity to #1, we must give the second most weight to #2 because the motivation of friendship is the love of another which is a greater motivation than that of an employee. If we believe Pope Francis, then we are obliged to believe Scalfari over the Press Office. This is not to say that the Press Office is telling a falsehood.

    Now Scalfari could be acting maliciously, but we are obliged in charity to not assume that but only assume that he is acting in friendship. What is required to reject the veracity of Scalfari’s statements is Pope Francis’s own personal rejection of the statements, not a third party that has motivations that are of a lower order than the motivations of friendship.

    NOTE: In terms of the concept in question, these statements are not self-exclusionary:
    Jesus was divine.
    Jesus was not divine on earth.
    Divine power flowed through Jesus during his earthly ministry.

    A person can hold all of these to be true at the same time. This causes there to be HUGE problems when looking to refute Scalfari when looking back through past statements of Pope Francis. We don’t just believe that Jesus was divine but FULLY divine on earth– that is all the divine attributes were present in and accessible to Jesus from the moment of His conception.

    It is really rather common to find people who consider that Jesus wasn’t omniscient, for example. You can catch this easily in the way that they explain certain scripture passages. For example, Matt 15: 21-28 as they will exegete this passage to show that Jesus is being taught a lesson.

    TLDR: What @BrionyB said about friendships. You don’t do this type of stuff to your friends. You don’t stay friends with someone who abuses the friendship unless you too are abusing the friendship for your own ends. Friendship is built on the mutual motivation of love for the other. If love is not what is at play in this situation, then Pope Francis is obligated to personally deny the statements and end the friendship as ending the friendship is the proper act of love. Only Pope Francis can do this because the friendship is between himself and Scalfari not between the Press Office and Scalfari.

  20. Legisperitus says:

    sibnao: I never thought of Sterling Hayden as having a southern drawl. He grew up in New England. Maybe you’ve conflated his character with Slim Pickens’.

  21. William says:

    Heresies of heresies! All is heresy!

  22. JamesA says:

    I would say Arianism. But hey, let’s not quibble. Heresy is heresy.

  23. Ages says:

    To Lurker59’s point: Who has the greater motivation to distort facts? Francis’ close friend or Francis’ PR people? Most likely the latter, if they see a mess that needs to be cleaned up.

    The incredibly vague and weak “refutation” further lends legitimacy to the statement, because if they could truthfully and clearly refute it, you would think they would do so.

    “But it doesn’t matter because he’s not a heretic unless he teaches it publicly!”

    If heresy goes forth in his name by a credible person who he continues to have contact with, and he makes no effort to clearly refute it, it is tacit agreement.

    “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers.”

  24. Ages says:

    And for those praying for a new pope: be careful. Francis has been packing the College of Cardinals with his hand-picked crew. The next pope could be worse.

  25. RosaryRose says:

    No, no and no. What in the world?!

    I do know Who Jesus Christ is, I do know the Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph. If I didn’t, I would be scared, sad, confused that the successor of St. Peter is behaving like he is.

    Pray the rosary, go to confession.

    I’m praying for a St. Catherine to go to Rome straighten out the Pope.

    We need Gandalf. King Theoden is crazy.

    Blessed Mother pray for us.

    We are soldiers in Christ. Pray, fast, go to confession. We are a people of hope. Don’t let the craziness lead you to despair. Offer it up. There are SOULS at risk.

  26. TonyO says:

    The requirement to interpret according to charity goes to Scalfari’s statement. Those who are engaging in calumny are those saying that he is an old man who is befuddled or acting maliciously.

    Lurker, you have glossed over the difference (1) between an assertion and a possibility, and the difference (2) between befuddled because old and mistaken in memory, and misunderstanding a subtle nuance.

    (1) For sake of charity, one need not assert that Scalfari has bad will (i.e. knowingly lied about what Francis said), it is enough to point out the possibility that Scalfari may not have as heightened a sense of carefulness with the truth that we would ordinarily expect of famous reporters and publishers who want their publications to continue to be considered worthwhile. It is not a lack of charity toward Scalfari if we, for example, point out previous instances in which his remarks were not QUITE accurate to the actual statements or facts that happened.

    (2) For the sake of correctness: there is no need to accuse someone of making a mistake because they are old in order to accuse them of having made a mistake of memory. Lots of younger people have mistaken or poor memories too. However, it is an equally problematic logical error to DISCOUNT the notion that older people have memory problems merely because some older people don’t have memory problems: yes, some don’t, but according to old people themselves, on average they tend to be more forgetful than they themselves were when younger. And lastly, it is not only possible but somewhat probable that an atheist would fail to grasp the content of a finely shaded distinction or nuance, and report as a blunt (and erroneous) claim that had actually been a distinction which he is unfamiliar with. Being an atheist, after all, means that his world picture and his categories of thought are not fully compatible with Catholicism, and he is likely to not get at least some Catholic distinctions (such as, three persons but only one being, one intellect, one will in God).

    So, it would be charitable to both parties (i.e. Francis and Scalfari) to suggest that Francis made (or, given the state of his SJ education, TRIED to make) a comment about Jesus while on Earth not operating at every moment as a Divine being, and Scalfari thinking what Francis had said is “Jesus wasn’t God on Earth”.

    That said, we know that Scalfari has in the past claimed Francis held outrageous views for a Catholic to hold, and yet Francis keeps going back and giving him interviews. We also know that Francis is not careful – he SAID THIS OF HIMSELF, we are not “accusing” him of anything other than his own words. And, furthermore, we also know that Francis has frequently, (perhaps even habitually) chosen to express himself vaguely, ambiguously, confusingly, and even (at times) contradictorily. Finally, we know (again, because he says so himself) that one of his main operating methods is to “make a mess”, hagan lio. It is far from unlikely that Francis willingly submits to interviews with Scalfari precisely to create messy confusion. He WANTS people to wonder, and be in doubt, and to be in distress about what is right. It is possible, given Jesuit education, that he even thinks that stating things badly, stating things without distinctions that NEED distinctions to be accurate, stating things topsy turvy, is for the benefit of people’s souls and for the good of the Church.

    NOTE: In terms of the concept in question, these statements are not self-exclusionary:
    Jesus was divine.
    Jesus was not divine on earth.
    Divine power flowed through Jesus during his earthly ministry.

    Sorry, but according to Catholic doctrine, the first excludes the second: the Divine Being is utterly unchangeable, God cannot do anything different than BE GOD eternally and throughout all time. Furthermore, it was the Second Person of the Divinity, who took on human nature at the moment of conception of Jesus Christ in his human nature, and at all times during that life on Earth the only personhood present was that 2nd Person of the Trinity. Jesus was divine on Earth, he had to be divine on Earth, from the first moment Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit – and this is Catholic dogma.

    In respect of His divine intellect, Jesus Christ knew all that God knows – He is and was and ever shall be God, because the Person of Jesus Christ is the divine 2nd Person. However, it is notionally possible to wonder if, in respect of his human intellect, Jesus Christ during his 33 years on Earth perhaps did not have access to all of the knowledge that He knew in respect of His divine intellect – that many things were hidden from His human intellect. Such a question can be asked. However, Pope Benedict XV, a century ago, (June 5, 1918), through his Holy Office, replied to questions about this by saying that the following theses cannot safely be taught: (A) it is not established that there was in the [human] soul of Christ the knowledge that is in the blessed, and that it is not certain that it is that the soul of Christ was ignorant of nothing, that from the beginning he knew all things in the Word, past, present, and future. [See Denzinger 2183 (old notation).] Note that Benedict did NOT merely say that “it cannot safely be taught that Jesus in his human intellect did not know everything that the blessed know”, no, he said that that the proposition that “it is not CERTAIN that he knew what the blessed know” cannot be safely taught. Hence the only safe position is that he did know it all in his human intellect.

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