Rorate Caeli

Scalfari and the Pope: A farce that has to end

Riccardo Cascioli
La Nuova Bussola Italiana
March 30, 2018

Risultato immagine per scalfari and pope francis images

The Pope who denies the existence of Hell. A thing of such magnitude that was then spread by newspapers throughout the world for hours and hours before the Holy See issued a denial of  Eugenio Scalfari’s words. Yet some things don’t quite add up in the Press Office’s communiqué...

What must a poor Catholic think, when connecting to Internet on Holy Thursday morning he finds that the Pope has told an old journalist friend that hell doesn’t exist and that the souls who don’t repent simply disappear? A Pope who denies two truths of the Faith: Hell and the immortality of the soul.  It cannot be, it has never happened in the history of the Church. And right at the beginning of the Paschal Triduum, when we relive the Sacrifice of Our Lord, Who came to save us from sin. Diabolical timing. If Hell doesn’t exist neither does salvation.   It matters little that it is not a magisterial text and that it’s the ‘usual’ article by the founder of the Repubblica, Eugenio Scalfari, who transcribed the sense of a conversation with Pope Francis at Santa Marta. The statement is of unprecedented magnitude and devastating consequences.

It can’t be, it just can’t be that the Pope thinks this: and even less so that he says it so lightheartedly in a conversation with a journalist who everyone knows has the habit of transcribing his conversations with the Pope, and that the Holy See has twice contradicted (even if always leaving many doubts). Yet from the Vatican: silence.  Silence despite the fact that from early morning several journalists had asked immediately for clarification from those in charge at the Press Office.

The hours pass by and the news spreads round the world: “The Pope denies the existence of Hell”. Equivalent to saying that the Church for two thousand years has been having us on, [indeed] has been making a fool of a lot of people.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1035 says: “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire." The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.”

If this truth can be denied or be up for debate, why could the same not be done with all the other truths of the Faith? Why believe in the Most Holy Trinity, or God as Creator, or the Incarnation? The fallout from such a statement is devastating; it means denying the very function of the Church. It is just not possible that a Pope could say a thing of such magnitude. Yet the hours continue to pass by and still nothing from the Vatican, despite the asphyxiating pressure from the journalists.

Finally, just after 15.00 the Press Office deigned to give out a communiqué which issued a denial of Scalfari’s words:

“The Holy Father recently received the founder of the newspaper La Repubblica in a private meeting on the occasion of Easter, without, however, granting him an interview. What is reported by the author in today’s article is the fruit of his reconstruction, in which the precise words uttered by the Pope are not cited. No quotations in the aforementioned article, then, should be considered as a faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”

A great sigh of relief.  Indeed,  the Pope could never have declared a thing of such magnitude with such blitheness. Yet… yet something doesn’t quite add up. Nine hours to deny a clamorous heresy attributed to the Pope: it beggars belief, a thing that would merit the firing en bloc of all those responsible for Vatican communications.

And then there’s the content of the denial, which is absolutely inadequate seeing the gravity of the matter. They don’t say that Scalfari invented everything, as someone hastened to write. The statements are very prudent indeed, not to mention ambiguous:

1.They say that the meeting with the Pope and Scalfari did take place but was not conceived as an interview. Of course, but apart from the first time, all of Scalfari’s meetings with Francis were private conversations that promptly ended up on the pages of La Repubblica. One could then take it for granted that also this time it was the same.

2. What was written in La Repubblica, according to the Press Office, is not invented but a “reconstruction” but simply “they are not the exact words of the Pope” . If the Italian [language is not a matter of  opinion, it means nonetheless that the subject was discussed and something of that sort was said - in any case, it is specified that the words were not faithfully transcribed.

3.We should remember that on the previous occasions when the Press Office had to intervene to contradict Scalfari’s articles, the then spokesman Father Lombardi had specified that the transcript was not faithful, but that it reported “the sense and spirit of the conversation”.

Not only that, it is not even the first time Scalfari attributes the Pope with this notion on Hell.

On October 9th  of last year, in fact, he wrote: “Pope Francis – I repeat – has abolished the places of eternal residence in the Afterlife of souls. The thesis he sustains is that souls dominated by evil and the non-repentant cease to exist, while those who have been redeemed from evil will be taken up to bliss and contemplation of God.”

Translation: contibutor Francesca Romana