Pope Francis’ interview with Eugenio Scalfari, the atheist founder of La Repubblica, has been taken down from the Vatican website, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi confirmed today.
The Oct. 1 interview, which was also published in L’Osservatore Romano, was criticised for its inaccuracies after it emerged that Scalfari hadn’t recorded it.
“The information in the interview is reliable on a general level but not on the level of each individual point analysed. This is why it was decided the text should not be available for consultation on the Holy See website," Fr. Lombardi told reporters Friday. "Its removal is a final update on the nature of this text. Some mistakes were made regarding its value, which was questioned. The Secretariat of State took the decision.”
Last month Antonio Socci, a Catholic columnist for the Italian newspaper “Libero,” wrote that after the publication of the interview, Pope Francis was fully aware of the risk of misunderstanding of some of his words, particularly those on conscience.
For this reason, he said, Fr. Lombardi was “told to maintain that the text of the interview had not been revised by Pope Francis and that it was penned by Scalfari after an informal chat.”
Fr. Lombardi also had underlined that “the interview is not part of Pope Francis' Magisterium” although he attested to its overall “trustworthiness”. Scalfari said he had shown the text to Francis for his approval, but the Vatican said at the time that it was not clear how closely the Pope had read it.
The Pope was therefore said to have “regretted” its publication in L’Osservatore Romano in its Oct. 2 edition and that it was included among the Holy Father’s speeches on the Vatican's website. Socci said the Pope complained of it to the director of L’Osservatore Romano, Gian Maria Vian, in Assisi on Oct. 4.
In view of the widespread concerns over parts of the interview, many will be relieved it’s no longer on the Vatican site.
The Holy Father, who was reluctant to give interviews prior to his election, has not given any new ones since the mix up.