Journalist: Pope Concerned About Misunderstanding of ‘La Repubblica’ Interview

According to Catholic columnist Antonio Socci, the Holy Father afterward took corrective measures to address the problem.

(photo: Marta Jiménez/CNA)

VATICAN CITY — According to a Catholic writer in Italy, Pope Francis was aware that his reported words in an Oct. 1 interview published in La Repubblica could be misunderstood and took measures concerning this.

Antonio Socci, a Catholic columnist for the Italian newspaper Libero, wrote Oct. 27 that, after the publication of the interview, Pope Francis was fully aware of the risk of misunderstanding some of his words, particularly those on conscience.

In the interview, Eugenio Scalfari, the atheist founder and former director of La Repubblica, quoted Pope Francis as saying that “the conscience is autonomous, and everyone must obey his conscience.”

Pope Francis reportedly reiterated his phrase, adding that “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.”

These sentences led to a certain amount of criticism for the Holy Father.

The Pope’s knowledge that he could be misunderstood is why — according to Socci — Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, 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.”

Father Lombardi also underlined that “the interview is not part of Pope Francis’ magisterium.”

Despite this, L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, re-published the interview in its Oct. 2 edition, and it is included among Pope Francis’ speeches on the Vatican’s website.

According to Socci, Pope Francis “regretted” the publication of the interview in L’Osservatore Romano and “complained of it to the director, Gian Maria Vian, in Assisi on Oct. 4.”

Video from Vatican TV shows that,, when Pope Francis went to visit the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi, he stopped and had a one-minute chat with Vian.

According to Socci, “That is probably the moment when Pope Francis complained to Vian.”

It is impossible to catch something of the conversation through the video, because of the background noise.

Socci confirmed to CNA Oct. 28 that he “learned about the Pope’s regret by two different sources.”

He further stated that “critics of Pope Francis, for his view on conscience, are double-dealing.”

“Would you really believe Pope Francis thinks that everybody can have his own idea of good and evil and thus justify what he does?” he asked.

“Is it really possible Pope Francis has an idea that would make being Christians, or believing in God, into nonsense?”

Socci underscored that “Pope Francis’ teachings on corruption, confession, the danger of the devil, all prove that Pope Francis’ view is orthodox and that he had not watered down the teachings of the Church, and particularly the doctrines of the Church.”