Vatican dismisses claim by Pope’s favoured journalist that Francis denies Christ’s divinity
ROME, October 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The Vatican today doubled down in denying claims by atheist Italian and journalist, Eugenio Scalfari, that Pope Francis told him he doesn’t believe that Jesus is God.
At the end of Thursday’s synod press briefing, the Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications, Paolo Ruffini, insisted that the Pope "never said what Scalfari wrote."
“Both what was reported in quotation marks as well as the free reconstruction and interpretation by Mr. Scalfari — the conversation dates back more than two years — cannot be considered a faithful account of what the Pope said and [what he said] can instead be found in all of his magisterium and that of the Church about Jesus, true God and true Man,” said Ruffini.
Yesterday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni had issued an initial response that many Catholics pointed out was not a full denial of Scalfari’s report. Bruni wrote:
As already stated on other occasions, the words that Dr. Eugenio Scalfari attributes in quotation marks to the Holy Father during conversations with him cannot be considered as a faithful account of what has actually been said, but rather represent a personal and free interpretation of what he has heard, as is quite evident from what has been written today about the divinity of Jesus Christ.
While the further clarification from Ruffini is widely seen as a step in the right direction, both high-ranking clergy and ordinary Catholics are asking the same question: why does it take over two tries and over twenty four hours to clarify a matter regarding a truth as central to the Christian faith as the divinity of Jesus Christ? And why does Pope Francis, who has granted Scalfari several interviews over the years, not himself confirm the brethren in the faith and distance himself from a man who is sowing confusion?
A priest in Rome pointed out that the confusion generated by Scalfari, who is numbered among the Pope’s favored interviewers, is compounded given the “Document on Human Fraternity” that Pope Francis signed with a Grand Imam Ahmad el-Tayebin February, and which states: “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom.”
He argued that if the Pope states that all religions are willed by God in the same manner as sex, race or color, Catholics begin to question the truth of the divinely revealed truth that Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, the Incarnate Word and only Savior of the world.
American Capuchin priest and scholar Father Thomas Weinandy echoed this view in a recent article for The Catholic Thing titled, “Pope Francis and Schism.” The Abu Dhabi statement, he said, “directly contradicts the will of the Father and so undermines the primacy of Jesus Christ his Son as the definitive Lord and universal Savior.”
Pope Francis has granted the 95-year-old Scalfari (who doesn’t use a tape recorder) several interviews since the beginning of his pontificate, with similar and predictable effect. In March 2018, Scalfari claimed the Pope told him that hell does not exist. La Repubblica, an Italian daily which Scalfari founded, claimed that Francis has told him the souls of those who do not go to heaven are annihilated. Annihilationism is a heresy according to the Catholic Church.
At the time, the Vatican disputed the claim, insisting the Pope does believe that hell exists and that “no quotation of the article should be considered a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”
Here is Paolo Ruffini’s full statement:
In response to questions that some of you and your colleagues have continued to ask us today about the words that Mr. Scalfari attributed to the Pope yesterday. Regarding this, as you know, there was already a clear refutation issued by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni. However, I would like to reiterate that the Holy Father never said what Scalfari wrote. Therefore, both what was reported in quotation marks as well as the free reconstruction and interpretation by Mr. Scalfari — the conversation dates back more than two years — cannot be considered a faithful account of what the Pope said and [what he said] can instead be found in all of his magisterium and that of the Church about Jesus, true God and true Man.