PopeWatch: Lombardi



Pope Francis has given another interview to the owner of La Repubblica, the ninety year old Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist, who apparently doesn’t take notes during interviews and has a bad memory.  More during the week about the substance of the interview, but the most interesting thing about it is the statement concerning the interview by Vatican press flack Father Federico Lombardi:


Regarding the long article published on Sunday in ‘La Repubblica’, Father Federico Lombardi SJ, Director of the Vatican Press Office, released a communiqué with a series of remarks.

Pointing out that the conversation between the Pope and Scalfari is extremely cordial and friendly in tone, it is very interesting and contains issues like the wound of sexual abuse against minors and the attitude of the Church towards the mafia.

Lombardi says that, just as in other similar occasions, Scalfari quotes the Pope’s words using quotation marks; however – he points out – Scalfari relies only on memory as the conversation is not transcribed or recorded, nor does the Pope check or revise the article before it is published. 

Therefore, Lombardi says, one must not consider it an “interview” in the habitual sense of the word as the journalist’s questions and the Pope’s answers are not related “word for word”. In this regard one must be especially careful, he continues, regarding some “quotes” that seem to affirm there are cardinals amongst the pedophiles, and that the Pope says he will find solutions regarding the celibacy of priests.

Lombardi points out that reading the article published in ‘La Repubblica’, these statements are clearly attributed to the Pope, but – curiously – the quotation marks are opened at the beginning of the paragraph and never closed… “A lapse of memory or an explicit acknowledgement the naïf reader is being manipulated?”

Okay, PopeWatch understands now.  The Pope has given two interviews with a ninety year old journalist who does not take notes.  The Pope does not check or revise the article before it is published.  What the Pope purports to have said is interesting but we are not to trust the quotes.  Sometimes PopeWatch wonders if this is a papacy or a very elaborate Monty Python skit.


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  1. It reminds me of nothing so much as the apparent total recall of conversations with suspects in police cars claimed by the officers and which are, invariably, indignantly repudiated by the same suspect, when judicially examined, only hours later.

    I must have read dozens, if not hundreds of such declarations and I cannot recollect one in which these alleged statements have not been at least qualified or explained. Usually, they are totally denied.

    Curiously, the officers’ notes, written up back at the police office, are always, verbatim et literatim, identical.

  2. Why doesn’t the Holy Father have all these interviews recorded so we can know what’s really being said?

  3. Why doesn’t the Holy Father have all these interviews recorded so we can know what’s really being said?

    Well, here is one interpretation:


    Some other sources to consult: Fr. Paul Mankowski’s article from about a decade ago on “Tames in Clerical Culture” and the article in Catholic World Report about a dozen years ago on ‘foxes’ and ‘lions’ in administrative positions (the author, IIRC, was Msgr. George Kelly).

    We are learning, drip drip drip, that the conclave chose the wrong man. We can hope that the results are grotesquely amusing rather than tragic.

  4. I was waiting for the latest interview that wasn’t an interview to be the subject on the this blog. The Vatican’s comments on the interview remind me of some of the subtitles on televised Italian mysteries. I keep thinking it must be poor translating. Yes, Don, I can hear the Liberty Bell March.

    Art Deco, Thank you for the link to Steve Skojec’s blog. For two months I have been meeting with three other Catholic women for discussion of Lumen Fidei. We decided on Sunday at the end of chapter two that we were done with it. Next meeting is Sept. and I’m going to suggest we take a look at Pope Pius X’s Pascendi Dominici Gregis.

  5. I have to admit, I’m still laughing at poor Fr. Lombardi’s “clarification.”

    He’s trying to make chicken salad out of yet another platter of chicken scat. And while it’s still inedible, it’s funny to look at.

    “Eugenio Scalfari is a journalist with untrustworthy interview practices who has nevertheless interviewed the Pope yet again. And while we again object to the accuracy of the interview, it is essentially accurate. Any more questions?”

  6. “We are learning, drip drip drip, that the conclave chose the wrong man…” – Art Deco. Well said, AD: Brevity is the soul of wit.

    Also, that Fr. Federico Lombardi has the hardest job in the world, trying to clean up after the latest Bergoglio emission.

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