ROME, October 1, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - From inside the Vatican to the back halls of diocesan offices many officials are wishing Pope Francis would stop granting off-the-cuff interviews that have led to an ever-increasing need to correct misinterpretations.

While perplexed reactions are continuing to flow in following last week’s publication of the now-famous Jesuit magazine interview, another controversial interview with Pope Francis was released Tuesday.

The interview, published in Italy’s La Repubblica daily newspaper, was conducted at the Pope’s residence by prominent atheist Eugenio Scalfari, whom the Pope had addressed in an op-ed published by the paper earlier this month. 

Perhaps the most startling assertion the Pope makes in the interview is that youth unemployment and loneliness among the elderly are the "the most urgent" problems facing the Church, and the “most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days.”

Scalfari begins his coverage of the interview this way:       

Pope Francis told me: ‘The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old. The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other, and the problem is they don't even look for them any more. They have been crushed by the present. You tell me: can you live crashed under the weight of the present? Without a memory of the past and without the desire to look ahead to the future by building something, a future, a family? Can you go on like this? This, to me, is the most urgent problem that the Church is facing.”

When Scalfari suggests those issues are largely political and economic problems for states, the Pope notes that these problems affect both bodies and souls. “It is not the only problem that we face, but it is the most urgent and the most dramatic,” the Pope said. 

The Vatican has not yet issued any clarification to the interview and sources in Rome told LifeSiteNews.com that, as was the case with the Jesuit magazine interview, it is likely that the quotes from the Pope were approved before publication.  Vatican Radio has released its own coverage of the interview, pulling out various quotes from the Pope.

Other quotations from the Pope in the interview that are likely to cause confusion include:

- Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense.

- And I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God, there is God and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation.

- From my point of view, God is the light that illuminates the darkness, even if it does not dissolve it, and a spark of divine light is within each of us. In the letter I wrote to you, you will remember I said that our species will end but the light of God will not end and at that point it will invade all souls and it will all be in everyone.

- Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good … Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place. 

- Vatican II, inspired by Pope Paul VI and John, decided to look to the future with a modern spirit and to be open to modern culture. The Council Fathers knew that being open to modern culture meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers. But afterwards very little was done in that direction. I have the humility and ambition to want to do something. 

- But I am the Bishop of Rome and Pope of the Catholic world. The first thing I decided was to appoint a group of eight cardinals to be my advisers. Not courtiers but wise people who share my own feelings. This is the beginning of a Church with an organization that is not just top-down but also horizontal. 

While some bloggers have noted problems with the English translation of the La Repubblica piece, LifeSiteNews has verified the above quotations are accurate translations of the original Italian. 

See the full interview in English here.

See the Italian original here.