Once again, Eugenio Scalfari, the 95-year-old co-founder and past editor of La Repubblica, a daily Italian newspaper, has caused an uproar with a supposed quote from Pope Francis.
Scalfari is known for paraphrasing the pope instead of quoting him directly. In his past interviews, Scalfari has claimed that the pope has told him that hell doesn’t exist and that communists think like true Christians. Each time the Vatican press office has issued a statement saying that Scalfari’s interviews aren’t an accurate reflection of the pope’s words.
The latest example: In an article published on Oct. 8, Scalfari wrote: “Those who, as it has happened many times with me, have had the luck of meeting him and speaking to him with the greatest cultural intimacy, know that Pope Francis conceives Christ as Jesus of Nazareth, man, not God incarnate. Once incarnate, Jesus ceases to be a God and becomes a man until his death on the cross.”
Scalfari goes on to state: “When I had the chance of discussing these words, Pope Francis told me: ‘They are proven proof that Jesus of Nazareth, once having become a man, was, though a man of exceptional virtues, not at all a God.’”
That is, of course, an absurd statement: It is tantamount to saying that the pope doesn’t believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ as Lord and in the Incarnation. The statement hearkens back to some of the earliest heresies of the church and isn’t something any Christian believer claims to be true.
The press office of the Holy See quickly clarified the pope’s statements allegedly made in the interview with the following:
“As has been affirmed on other occasions, the words that Dr. Eugenio Scalfari attributes between quotes to the Holy Father during his colloquies held with him cannot be considered as a faithful account of what was effectively said, but represent rather a personal and liberal [loose] interpretation of that which he heard, as appears entirely evident from what was written today concerning the divinity of Jesus Christ.”
What are the takeaways from the unfortunate exchange between Scalfari and Pope Francis? Maybe the following:
1. Perhaps La Repubblica, as a newspaper of some repute, shouldn’t permit Scalfari to continue to publish the “gist” of what his subjects are saying or his interpretations of what he believes he is hearing. Scalfari isn’t practicing good journalism.
2. Perhaps His Holiness, in his attempts to talk with the secular press, shouldn’t speak privately to La Reppublica. This is the third time that Scalfari has seriously misquoted the Holy Father.
3. Perhaps we as Catholics who hear “fake news” about the faith shouldn’t be quick to jump on it and should instead try to find out what the source of the information is.
4. Perhaps we as Catholics can once again refocus and thank God for the wonder of the Incarnation of Christ, the Son of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us:
“The unique and altogether singular event of the Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply that he is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man.”