Here’s what looks to be the final update on that interview Pope Francis gave to Eugenio Scalfari of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica this fall. Readers of this website will recall that the interview quotes Pope Francis as saying, among other things, that “proselytism” is “nonsense” and that, with respect to conscience, everyone must follow his own idea of good and evil. Progressives swooned; traditionalists grumbled; everyone wondered what it all meant.
Shortly after the interview ran, it emerged that Scalfari had reconstructed the pope’s words from memory. Scalfari had not tape recorded the pope nor taken notes during the meeting . In other words, the La Repubblica “interview” was not an interview at all. Why a respected newspaper would publish an imaginative reconstruction as though it were a real interview is beyond me–but the Vatican stated at the time that the interview was basically “trustworthy,” if not verbatim. And the Vatican posted the interview on its website.
Last week, however, the Vatican decided to take the interview down. According to this report from the Catholic News Agency, Pope Francis became concerned that people might misunderstand the interview–particularly the discussion of conscience. According to a Vatican spokesman, “The information in the interview is reliable on a general level but not on the level of each individual point analyzed: this is why it was decided the text should not be available for consultation on the Holy See website.” The music was right, I guess, but the lyrics were bit off. Probably the interview is still available at La Repubblica, though.