PopeWatch: The Pope and the Truthful Atheist

Well, the folks at Catholic Herald are pretty tired of the ongoing act of the Pope saying something to the elderly atheist Italian journalist that creates headlines, with the Vatican then doing a non-denial denial:


According to Scalfari’s report, the “colloquy” Pope Francis entertained with him ran the gamut: from the things like cosmogenesis — the origin and fate of the created order — to the social, political, and cultural complex and worldview we catch under the rubric of “Modernity”, to the present and future of Europe. Right in the middle of the conversation — one that reads like that, which could be carried on by any pair of intelligent and cultured old men at a pensioners’ club over wine and cards — there is discussion of the eternal fate of those who die in sin.

About that last thing, Scalfari quotes Francis as saying, “[The souls of] those, who do not repent and [therefore] cannot be forgiven, disappear. A ‘hell’ does not exist: what exists is the disappearance of sinful souls.” If the Pope said that, or anything that fairly amounts to that, he would be a heretic. There were other highly problematic expressions, which Scalfari put in the mouth of the Pope, as well: talk of “divine nature” and inert creation brought to life by a sort of divine or semi-divine “energy” that sounds exciting and speculatively daring in the ears of hippies and devotees of the New Age, but that really come to hackneyed and sixth-rate rehashings of primitive cosmological speculation.

Knowing what they come to, however, tells us nothing about where they’ve come from: Scalfari’s head? Pope Francis’s mouth?

The Press Office of the Holy See issued a statement on Thursday afternoon, denying Scalfari’s report is a faithful representation of Pope Francis’s ipsissima verba — his exact words — but avoiding a repudiation of the Pope’s ipsissima vox — that is to say, the general sense, meaning or purport of his remarks:

The Holy Father recently received the founder of the daily La Repubblica in a private meeting on the occasion of Easter, without, however, releasing any interview. Everything reported by the author in [Thursday’s] article is the fruit of his own reconstruction, in which the verbatim words pronounced by the Pope are not quoted. No direct report of speech, therefore, may be considered a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.

One has the impression they took great care to avoid such repudiation. That may or may not be the case. It is also neither here nor there. The statement is not satisfactory. To be perfectly frank, nothing in this situation is satisfactory, or even close to it. The headlines generated around the world declaring hell abolished and the Catholic Church changed forever are false. The story they headline, however, is not.


Go here to read the rest.  The Pope has met with this journalist five times.  Pope Francis has never personally denied anything that Scalfari has claimed he said. PopeWatch has no doubt that Scalfari has been completely accurate in what came from the Pope’s mouth, and that we have a loose mouthed heretic as Pope, and the useless Cardinals are doing bupkis about it.  The best reading of the current pontificate is that it is God’s practical joke.

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  1. His Holiness has spoken of Satan, demons, possession, and tangible evil on many occasions. I see no reason to doubt that Pope Francis believes in hell and the eternal soul.

    The two most significant concerns this story brings back to the fore is that His Holiness is utterly reckless in his communications and the Vatican, with its immense resources, is in the dark ages for communication.

    As to the first, His Holiness acts like he is a parish priest, able to have a genial lunch with an old Communist that he personally finds interesting without effect. No amount of experience has changed this either. No misreporting from an impromptu flight, misstep in an interview, or poorly translated homily causes Pope Francis to exercise the smallest amount of care. Compare this with Pope Benedict who, after his misstep in Turkey in which Muslims made much hay about his referencing prior characterizations of Muslims, made a quick and full apology and avoided any situation that might lead to the same outcome. Pope Benedict learned quickly and exercised great care. Pope Francis chooses to not learn and, so, experiences the same outcome, again and again.

    As to the second, I have no patience at all with this Vatican or White House. Both have access to the very finest minds and resources for communication on the planet. It is a choice to have communications that are worlds behind private industry. In both cases, there is no attempt to check anything at all before publishing and there is an utter negligence in considering ramifications.

    Pope Francis is not a bad man. I just don’t believe this. I think he is in way over his head and is too prideful to see it. I think he is Puzzle the Donkey to Cardinal Kasper’s Monkey.

    The Cardinals elected a man with no theological, philosophical, or managerial chops. That was no accident. They wanted someone who could be manipulated.

    They got what they paid for… I should not like to be them when the curtain closes on their act in this play.

  2. Dipping out of a tainted well without knowing is one thing.
    Going back for seconds is insane.

    Scalfari is verboten!

    Please.. somebody paste this on the Papal mirror to help him remember.

  3. No fool like an old fool.
    It’s a wonder that Scalfari can keep a straight face when speaking to the bishop of Rome.

  4. David,

    The self professed and publicly acclaimed most humble man on the planet ever is too proud to admit he’s in over his head? Doesn’t sound likely.

  5. It is just my opinion, and not an educated one at that, but it seems very likely to me that your sarcasm is well placed and that Pope Francis is just the sort of man who would not admit he was in over his head. Heck, he might not even realize it since, like Puzzle, he has a legion of sycophants who need him to further their unholy agenda.

    Consider that he is surrounded by Kasper’s cronies and that everyone who could advise him wisely has been pushed aside. Folks like Burke and Sarah can no longer even get their calls answered from the Papal Apartments and, yet, Kasper’s crew in South American and Germany are able to get novel interpretations of Amoris Laetitia seemingly blessed by the Pope himself.

    It seems to me that there are at least two possibilities here:

    1) His Holiness is entirely in the know and is an outright heretic and corrupting influence and
    2) His Holiness is the patsy for the cabal which has been trying to “modernize” the Church through all of my life.

    As to the first, Bergoglio has no meaningful theological or philosophical work to his credit. I see no reason to believe that he wrote Amoris Laetitia. He has no experience in the Vatican circles either so it seems unlikely to me that he manipulated the Synod that led to Amoris Laetitia. Again and again, we see a diabolical intelligence behind these machinations that seems well beyond Bergoglio. To me, this points at the second theory as potentially the right one.

    Bergoglio strikes me as very like Puzzle the Donkey because he doesn’t seem competent in any of the areas requisite to be utterly corrupt. Kasper does. He has allies in every capacity of Vatican and has a long history of despising everything that JPII and Benedict stood for. He is just the sort to move the Conclave to elect as its first third world pope a man utterly incapable of executing the office without the very functionaries in Kasper’s stable.

    This is all theory, of course. I am trying to explain from outside what can only be understood with insider knowledge. I am open to other interpretations.

  6. “[R]an the gamut:”
    Finally, something that is not “wide-ranging.”
    I will say, though, that Pope Francis must believe in Heck, or else where do all the souls of the Self-absorbed Promethean Neoplagians go?

  7. David,
    some insight into Francis can be gained from his “off the cuff” remarks. They are his own thoughts. I have no doubt that Kasper is a powerful influence, but Kasper wasn’t there when he came up with “who am I to judge” – that was spontaneous. I can accept that the power behind the throne is someone other than the pope himself, and I can accept that he is not aware of the extent to which he may be being manipulated, but I think in the end he is not dissatisfied with the results.

  8. What bothers me is not that we get perpetual confusion, (the incompetence excuse) but that all the confusion and “misquote” seem to be only those in opposition to the traditional faith, and never any that further enhance the faith as taught by the apostles. That alone is sufficient to cause great wonder as to why?

  9. Ultimately, I have no patience with any of it. As a manager, I have a very hard time with simultaneous errors: a complete stalling of desperately needed Curia reform and other administrative reform on the one hand and actively stoking disharmony and disunion within the Church. Is it going too far to say that His Holiness seems to want us to rebel? I don’t think it does. It sure feels like he would like nothing better than confirmation that we are not really Catholic because we refuse the authority of Rome.

    To be sure, he is a dictatorial Peronist at heart. What I am uncertain about is that he is a very smart one.

    At some level, I think he is probably a nice person. He clearly has something of a soft heart but he reserves it only for his own. Not entirely a bad man, I don’t think but certainly not all good either.

  10. ” I will say, though, that Pope Francis must believe in Heck, or else where do all the souls of the Self-absorbed Promethean Neoplagians go?”

    Maybe they’ll go to;

    1) Masonic Lodge #666.
    2) Annual Clinton Foundation soiree.
    3) Planned Parenthood infant awareness seminar.
    4) LBGT leadership conference on faith and

    There DJH.
    Now your comment is, less snarky.

  11. Based off of his activity elsewhere, I’d be shocked if the Pope did at any point come out and say “no, this dude is totally full of it.”

    He strikes me as the kind of guy who would take a sort of joy in wrapping himself in the bit about how blessed are you when people lie about you for my sake– and he probably views any backlash from these interviews as righteous suffering as he tries to save Scalfari’s soul.

    Which hooks up rather neatly with the “in over his head” thing, sadly. It’s entirely possible Scalfari doesn’t want to be saved, and really enjoys creating chaos in those religious fools’ circles.

  12. Foxfire –
    I can see that, but it is still foolish (to be polite). In order to try to save one man, he scandalized millions. Who knows how many just give up and fall away every time something like this happens (or in this case take him seriously enough to believe eternal damnation is not to be feared)

    besides, it defies even the most simplistic understanding of evangelization. It’s not your words, no matter how eloquent or dripping with compassion and accompaniment, that convert anyone, it is the grace of God, and more can be gained by prayer and fasting than by denying articles of faith or being the cool hippie priest.

  13. Bergoglio is suggesting that God made a few mistakes and that Bergoglio,
    the humble, will correct God’s mistakes. The Church must understand that
    a man who wears five dollar shoes and rides in a twenty year old hatchback
    knows more than anyone in this life or the next. To Bergoglio the truth is

  14. Foxfire, well said.

    “He strikes me as the kind of guy who would take a sort of joy in wrapping himself in the bit about how blessed are you when people lie about you for my sake– and he probably views any backlash from these interviews as righteous suffering as he tries to save Scalfari’s soul… It’s entirely possible Scalfari doesn’t want to be saved, and really enjoys creating chaos in those religious fools’ circles.”

  15. Pat-
    I spend a lot of time reminding myself that Himself didn’t give any automatic blessings of good sense.

    Pretty sure this blog is where I first figured out that the Pope seemed to have entirely the wrong idea from the Parable of the Prodigal Son, where any sort of objection to the other son’s behavior is the problem, rather than not being happy his brother was alive.

    Dave Spaulding- thanks.

  16. The Pope has a real love for the Prodigal Son but I too think he has it wrong. His Holiness concentrates on welcoming the fallen. To be sure, Jesus meant this to be the lesson but the Pope’s distaste for the Good Son is definitely not Christian. Jesus does not say “the Good Son is a bad guy and I prefer the Prodigal Son. Instead, the father goes out and gets the Good Son, happy to have both at the party.”

    As a Traditionalist, it definitely get the sense that His Holiness would rather my family and I not be Catholic. It feels like he dislikes the faithful, those who never stopped practicing the faith, particularly American ones.

    Pope Francis’ MASH unit analogy is applied in a way that seems like he would rather the front line soldiers fall so that he can rescue them. Again, that is how it feels, not necessarily what he intends. Taking this back to the instant matter, His Holiness seems anxious to save the soul of this nunagenarian and is willing to sacrifice the souls of faithful Catholics to do it. In that sense, it seems very like a warped version of the Prodigal Son in which the father trades the Good Son for the Prodigal Son.

  17. Fr. Dwight Longenecker sums up why Pope Francis and the official “Church” are increasingly irrelevant in “10 Reasons Why Liberal Catholicism Will Fade Away”:
    Two Highlights: “Liberal Catholicism is derivative.” There is nothing new about Bergoglio World nor LibCaths: Longenecker notes—2nd hand homosexual justification, 2nd hand ecology-theology, 2nd hand feminism, 2nd hand 2nd handism. Even the superficial glad hand is 2nd hand.

    And especially pointed to Bergogliology—“The liberal establishment system might control their journals, their colleges and control things in Rome and in the dioceses, but the real life of the church is at the grass roots level, and those folks —esp. Pope Frank—have zero connection with what is really going on.”

    Most Catholics have just gone their own way and every day you don’t hear about Jorge the Horrible is a good day. A very, very good day.

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