You know that interview Pope Francis gave to Eugenio Scalfari of the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica? The one in which the pope made some puzzling comments about conscience and proselytism? The one that so many people, including me, have been poring over for insights into the pope’s thoughts on religion, politics, and law? It turns out it’s not an interview at all, but an after-the-fact reconstruction. Apparently, Scalfari neither tape-recorded his interview nor took notes at the time. Some errors have already begun to emerge. The Vatican has “confirmed the basic ‘trustworthiness'” of the interview–whatever that means. But, John Allen writes:

None of this, of course, is to excuse La Repubblica‘s sloppiness in not making clear to readers that what was being presented as the literal words of the pope was actually a reconstruction, not a transcript.

Barring further clarification from the Vatican, it’s now impossible to cite any particular lines or formulae from that interview and attribute them directly to the pope, since we don’t know quite where Scalfari ends and Francis begins.

Oh, well, never mind, then.

Is that any way to run a newspaper?

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